USA warship challenges China's claims in South China Sea

USA warship challenges China's claims in South China Sea

A U.S. Navy destroyer carried out a "freedom of navigation operation" on Thursday, coming within 12 nautical miles of an artificial island built up by China in the South China Sea, U.S. officials told Reuters.

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 US warship, warned and expelled it, " the spokesman said.

An analysis by Washington's Centre for Strategic and International Studies found the volume of global shipping transiting through the South China Sea was less than previously thought, and put the real figure at $US3.3 trillion ($4.2 trillion).

"The document nearly didn't happen because of disagreement over references to the South China Sea disputes, with Vietnam leading the push for stronger language despite objections from Cambodia and the host, the Philippines".

China expressed its "strong dissatisfaction" with the USA over the Navy's latest freedom of navigation operation in which a warship sailed past one of China's man-made islands in the strategic South China Sea.

"China has indisputable sovereignty of the Nansha Islands and its adjacent waters and such a move severely undermines China's sovereignty and security, and severely endangers the safety of frontline personnel of both sides", he said.

Wang's claim "is false" and China's reclamation work "did not end in mid-2015 with the completion of its artificial islands in the Spratlys", said the report.

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Beijing upbraided the United States for the Thursday's operation - the third reported under the Trump administration. The Department of Foreign Affairs did not comment further on the issue.

"We urge the U.S. to immediately correct its mistake, stop provocations in the name of "freedom of navigation"," it said.

Such operations, Nauert said, get the "most attention" when they occur in the South China Sea.

The US has criticized China's construction of islands and build-up of military facilities in the disputed territories and was concerned it could be used to restrict free nautical movement. "We told them we are a USA [ship] conducting routine operations in worldwide waters".

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".

Tokyo's ties with Beijing have always been plagued by a territorial dispute over a group of tiny, uninhabited East China Sea islets and the legacy of Japan's wartime aggression. Therefore, China's legitimate activities within its territorial sea will continue as a routine, according to the statement.

The archipelago is claimed in its entirety by China, Taiwan and Vietnam, while portions are claimed by Malaysia and the Philippines.

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