US Navy destroyer conducts operation in South China Sea

US Navy destroyer conducts operation in South China Sea

US Navy destroyer conducts operation in South China Sea

China has voiced discontent with the United States after an American warship sailed near an artificial island in the disputed South China Sea.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang said the USS Naval ship John S. McCain illegally entered the waters near the Meiji Reef Islands without permission of the Chinese government.

The Chinese navy "identified the USA warship, warned and expelled it, " the spokesman said.

All or parts of the islands and territorial waters in the South China Sea are disputed by China, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam, Taiwan, and Brunei.

The South China Morning Post ran an editorial in late July denouncing USA freedom of navigation patrols as "ineffective" because they don't seem to have influenced Beijing's behavior at all, and yet also "risky" because they might push Beijing too far.

China claims almost all of the sea, through which $5 trillion in annual shipping trade passes and which is believed to sit atop vast oil and gas deposits.

Mischief Reef is controlled by China but also claimed by the Philippines, Vietnam and Taiwan.

In the latest sail-by, US military officials notified Philippine counterparts of the maneuver, a Philippine official told the AP, adding Filipino forces were not involved.

Under worldwide law, countries can claim territorial sea up to 12 nautical miles from islands under their sovereignty.

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Tensions escalated a few years ago when China began to build seven reefs, including Mischief, into islands, including three with runways, which the USA and China's neighbors fear could be used to project Beijing's military might and potentially obstruct freedom of navigation.

Now it seems China's patience with the territorial row is running out.

Although China opposes inclusion of the sea disputes in worldwide conferences, partly to prevent the U.S. and other Western governments from intervening, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop and Japan's new top diplomat, Taro Kono, expressed concern over aggressive actions in the waters.

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

"China is strongly dissatisfied with this", Geng said in a statement, adding that Beijing would lodge an official protest with Washington.

"However, some parties from outside continue to meddle in the region under the guise of free navigation", Geng said.

He said the concerns could then be discussed in the future meetings of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) if China indeed proceeds with land reclamation and militarization.

But China scoffed at the USA, calling the move a "provocation" that could seriously damage the two countries' strategic trust and also create difficulties and obstacles for their defence forces, Reuters reported.

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