Beijing has warned Washington that it will respond with "resolute measures" to the presence of either US Coast Guard (USCG) cutters or US Navy (USN) warships in the western Pacific Ocean or South China Sea.
Speaking at a monthly press conference at the Ministry of National Defence (MND) in Beijing, Senior Colonel Wu Qian characterised US activities in the region as "provocation", particularly in the South China Sea, over most of which Beijing claims sovereignty.
The MND spokesperson was responding to a question from a reporter who stated that the USCG planned "to increase force deployment in the West Pacific and that the Coast Guard might replace the US Navy in conducting freedom-of-navigation operations [FONOPs] in future", citing remarks made to the press by USCG Commandant Admiral Karl Schultz during a visit to the Philippines on 21 October.
According to the Hong-Kong based Asia Times newspaper, Adm Schultz stated at the time that "there are ongoing discussions, ongoing planning efforts" to support the US Indo-Pacific Command's operations in the South China Sea. However, the Asia Times report made no reference to FONOPs.
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