February 19, 2018

US Destroyer Sails Near Artificial Chinese Island in South China Sea

12 August 2017, 11:07 | Opal Carroll

Beijing says US destroyer violated China's sovereignty & security

US Destroyer Sails Near Artificial Chinese Island in South China Sea

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

The operation was illegal and carried out without permission from Beijing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang said.

The U.S. exercise, the third of its kind to be held since President Donald Trump assumed office, was condemned as a violation of China's claim to sovereignty, CNN reported. Investors have in recent days fled so-called risk assets on concerns a dispute between the US and North Korea will end in a full-fledged war.

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

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".

This time, Chinese warships were scrambled to identify the USS McCain and "warn it off", the Foreign Ministry said.

Earlier in July, China accused US Navy's USS Stethem destroyer of trespassing its territorial waters by sailing within 12 nautical miles of Triton Island, part of the Paracel Islands.

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The Spratly Islands, also known as the Nansha Islands, are disputed territory between China and a number of United States allies, including Malaysia, Vietnam and the Philippines.

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.

"That is true in the South China Sea as in other places around the globe", she said. US officials say the military will continue to sail, fly and operate wherever permitted by worldwide law.

The ruling invalidated Beijing's claim to sovereignty over large swaths of the South China Sea. It is also believed to be rich in natural resources, including oil.

The Defense Ministry said United States and Chinese military relations are generally "stable" but said such actions foster mistrust between the nations.

Chinese authorities claim 90 percent of the area and have repeatedly said that the country's activities in the region are China's sovereign right.

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