United States warship sails near island; China protests

United States warship sails near island; China protests

United States warship sails near island; China protests

China's military has warned freedom of navigation patrols by the United States in the South China Sea will cause it to boost Chinese defence capacity in the disputed waters.

The USS John S McCain came within 12 nautical miles of the Mischief Reef in the Spratly Islands, the US Navy said in a statement.

Firing back at criticism of China's activities, Foreign Minister Wang Yi said Monday that China had "stopped or already completed land reclamation" on its holdings in the South China Sea two years ago.

The operation was the latest attempt to counter what Washington sees as Beijing's efforts to limit freedom of navigation in the strategic waters, and comes as Trump is seeking China's cooperation to rein in North Korea.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, a USA official told AFP news agency a Chinese frigate sent radio warnings at least 10 times to the USS McCain.

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The construction of necessary and appropriate facilities by the Chinese side in some reefs and islands of the Nansha Islands is a legitimate right granted to sovereign states by worldwide law, which has nothing to do with militarisation and does not pose a threat to regional security, said Geng.

And with China putting pressure on Singapore to downplay the South China Sea issue, Storey said the city state would have its work cut out trying to keep everyone happy.

An escalation in the conflict over territory in the South China Sea could have global consequences, given that more than $5 trillion (4.25 trillion euros) in traded goods and a third of all maritime traffic worldwide passes through its waters each year.

More significantly, the latest USA naval patrol comes days after a meeting of China and ASEAN foreign ministers in the Philippines had agreed a framework for a code of conduct in the South China Sea which is contested by multiple claimants including China, Vietnam, Malaysia, Taiwan and the Philippines.

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In the latest sail-by, USA military officials notified Philippine counterparts of the maneuver, a Philippine official said, adding that Philippine forces were not involved.

Spokesmen from both the Defence Ministry and the Foreign Ministry issued statements condemning the "unauthorised entry into neighbouring waters of relevant islands and reefs of China's Nansha Islands" by the USS John S. McCain.

China, which claims virtually the entire South China Sea, routinely protests such operations. This has prompted concern over prospects of an accidental clash near the tiny islets, which are claimed as Diaoyu in China and Tiaoyutai in Taiwan. "Brunei claims an exclusive economic zone over this area", the CIA Factbook says.

The Djibouti base will also provide a resting place for Chinese navy personnel, he said.

"China has been unswervingly determined to safeguard its territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests and uphold peace and stability in the South China Sea". China has ignored and dismissed the ruling as a sham.

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