China slams US Navy's new 'provocation' in South China Sea

Elias Hubbard
August 13, 2017

The U.S. "freedom of navigation" operation has been previously conducted near China's reclaimed islands, called the Spratlys, or Nansha Islands, claimed also by the Philippines, Vietnam and Taiwan, among others.

The U.S. destroyer sailed 6 nautical miles past Mischief Reef Thursday as part of a freedom of navigation operation in global waters, a U.S. navy official said on condition of anonymity.

The warship spat comes as a war of words between the USA and North Korea escalates and President Donald Trump pushes China to do more to reign in Pyongyang's threats.

"At the moment the relations between the armed forces of China and the United States show stable development".

China, one of Pyongyang's closest diplomatic partners, has been working to ease tensions, but President Trump has often urged China to do more to use its influence to help address the dispute over North Korea's nuclear program.

But Nicole Schwegman, spokeswoman for the U.S. Pacific Fleet, said that USA forces operated in the Asia Pacific region on a daily basis.

"McCain" illegally entered the waters near the reef and conducted a so-called "freedom of navigation operation" on Thursday without permission of the Chinese government, Xinhua quoted Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang as saying.

U.S. State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said Thursday the operations are being conducted "in accordance with global law".

In a joint statement after a meeting Monday of US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and his Australian and Japanese counterparts, the three officials "expressed serious concerns over maritime disputes in the South China Sea".

USA officials say the military will continue to sail, fly and operate wherever permitted by worldwide law.

Twelve nautical miles marks the territorial limits recognised internationally.

China considers the Spratly archipelago as its territory, despite the Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration decision that Beijing had no reasons for territorial claims in the South China Sea.

The U.S. military has a long-standing position that its operations are carried out throughout the world, including in areas claimed by allies, and they are separate from political considerations.

Attracted by the strategic military location and the prospect of oil, China, Taiwan, Brunei, the Philippines, Malaysia and Vietnam have all laid territorial claim to the Spratly's and have occupied several islands.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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