United States warship challenges China's claims in South China Sea

United States warship challenges China's claims in South China Sea

This is not the first a USA ship has sailed close to the disputed island in the South China Sea, last month the USS Stethem sailed within 12 nautical miles of Triton island in the Paracel archipelago, which is claimed by China, Vietnam and Taiwan.

The Chinese military "immediately sent out warships" with two missile frigates identifying the USA naval destroyer and warning it away from Mischief Reef in the Spratly Islands, which China calls the Nansha Islands, according to China's foreign ministry.

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

China, which claims virtually the entire South China Sea, routinely protests such operations, which President Donald Trump's administration has continued partly to reassure allies locked in territorial disputes with Beijing.

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.

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"China has the firm determination to safeguard its territorial sovereignty and maritime interests", Geng said.

China's sovereignty claim over the sea has been challenged by five regional nations - Vietnam، Taiwan، Brunei، Malaysia and the Philippines.

"China is very displeased with this and will bring up the issue with the United States side", the ministry added.

Asked to comment on the challenges faced by the PLAN in the South China Sea, especially from the US Navy, commanding officer of Yulin Capt Hu Luyang said it was okay for the American navy to patrol the area in the global waters.

After a typhoon washed out the bridge in October a year ago, China began to undertake reclamation anew on the southern end of North Island and "built a retaining wall around the [2.73 hectares] of new land to prevent further erosion". The island itself is claimed by China, Taiwan, and Vietnam.

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On Friday, China's Foreign Ministry spokesman said "some foreign forces move against the tide, and continue to make trouble under "freedom of navigation".

The United States has criticised China's construction of islands and build-up of military facilities in the sea, and is concerned they could be used to restrict free nautical movement. "To this end, Beijing has undertaken substantial upgrades of its military infrastructure in the Paracels".

Additional reporting from Reuters.

Thursday's 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 co-operation to rein in North Korea. An estimated $5 trillion in annual trade passes through the waterway.

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