by Kris Osborn
According to a report Friday in the Wall Street Journal.
Pentagon officials reportedly told the paper that Chinese vessels came within 12 miles of the U.S. coastline, official entering area considered by international conventions to be U.S. territory.
According to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, 12 miles off the coast of a given country is recognized as a formal extension of sovereign territory. According to the Wall Street Journal report, Pentagon officials confirmed that the vessels from the People's Liberation Army Navy, or PLAN, entered within the 12 mile limit and into U.S. territorial waters off the Alaskan coast.
Pentagon officials told Scout Warrior that Chinese ships were traveling through the Aluetian Island chain in the Bering Sea off the coast of Alaska but did not formally confirm that Chinese warships entered within 12-miles of the Alaskan coastline.
"The five PLAN ships transited expeditiously and continuously through the Aleutian Island chain in a manner consistent with international law. This was a legal transit of U.S. territorial seas conducted in accordance with the Law of the Sea Convention," Cmdr. Bill Urban, Pentagon spokesman, told Scout Warrior in a written statement.
"After transiting the Aleutian Island chain, the PLAN ships continued out of the area, and into the Pacific Ocean. We will have no further updates on their position," he added.
This marks the first time Chinese warships were sighted in waters between Russia and Alaska, reports indicated.
Much attention has been paid to the rapid modernization of the Chinese military - the Chinese Navy in particular. A congressional report issued last year, the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission, found that China's Navy will likley have more ships than the U.S. Navy by the 2020s, given the pace at which they are reported to be adding destoyers, submarines, carriers and smaller surfrace vessels.