US destroyer challenges China's claims in South China Sea

Elias Hubbard
August 12, 2017

China, which claims the South China Sea virtually in entirety, has protested such repeated U.S. military operations, which President Trump's administration has continued partly to reassure allies locked in territorial rifts with Beijing.

China on Thursday voiced strong protest against a US Navy warship passing close to the Meiji Reef in the South China Sea.

The Foreign Ministry pointed out that that the so-called U.S. "freedom of navigation" mission was carried out without authorization from Beijing, with has "indisputable sovereignty over the Nansha Islands (Spratley) and its surrounding waters".

The operation occurred at an awkward and tense moment in the region, amid the war of words between the United States and North Korea.

He added that the Chinese Navy identified the warship, warned and expelled it.

Thursday's operation, first reported by Reuters, 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.

"China is resolutely opposed to this kind of show of force and pushing of regional militarization by the USA that may easily cause an unexpected incident at sea or in the air", it said in a statement.

A maritime dispute in the South China Sea flared up on Thursday when a U.S. destroyer sailed near man-made island claimed by China, a move Beijing labeled a "provocation" and the United States called appropriate under worldwide law.

"The US destroyer's actions have violated Chinese and worldwide laws, as well as severely harmed China's sovereignty and security", the ministry said late on Thursday in a statement on its website. They do that on a daily basis, including the South China Sea.

USA officials say the military will continue to sail, fly and operate wherever permitted by worldwide law. "It's true in other places around the world, as well", Nauert said.

Geng said China "has indisputable sovereignty over the Nansha Islands (Spratly) and their adjacent waters", and called for a dialogue between Beijing and the governments of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations member countries to solve the maritime dispute.

Twelve nautical miles marks the territorial limits recognised internationally. "We told them we are a USA [ship] conducting routine operations in global waters".

Beijing has reclaimed land in massive dredging operations, turning sandbars into islands equipped with airfields, ports and lighthouses.

China's claims in the South China Sea, through which about $5 trillion in ship-borne trade passes each year are contested by Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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