China's focus on its South China Sea operations unwarranted- United States

Last Updated: May 15 2019 19:26

SINGAPORE- On Wednesday, the head of operations of the United States Navy said that its freedom of navigation movements in the disputed South China Sea get more attention than they deserve. 

The United States military said two of its warships sailed near islands claimed by China in the South China Sea on Monday last week, a move that angered Beijing at a time of tense ties between the world's two biggest economies.

"(The operations) get more attention in the media and also have, sometimes from China, than they warrant, to be honest," John Richardson told reporters on the sidelines of a maritime defence conference in Singapore.

"I`ve done the analysis and I can state with confidence that our level of operations has been consistent over the decades," Richardson said, adding that there had been "no spikes recently".

Beijing denounced what the United States said was an "innocent passage" near the Gaven and Johnson Reefs in the Spratly Islands last week, saying it infringed upon Chinese sovereignty, and "damaged the peace, security and good order of the relevant seas". 

"They`ve been, I guess, fairly increasingly consistent in their response to these but if I just got back to first principles...I just want to make sure that the US Navy`s approach has been consistent. We haven`t done anything increasingly provocative or anything else," Richardson said.