South China Sea : China protest USA ship presence

North Korea war

A "displeased" Beijing has slammed a US Navy destroyer's "freedom of navigation operation" near one of its artificial islands in the South China Sea, labelling the exercise a provocation.

The USS John S McCain sailed within six nautical miles of Mischief Reef in the Spratly Islands on Thursday as part of a "freedom of navigation" operation, which prompted the Chinese navy to warn off the US destroyer.

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

The Spratly islands are claimed or partly occupied by China, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan, Vietnam and Brunei.

Abella fielded questions on the issue in a news briefing 3 days after Philippine Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano echoed China in saying Beijing had stopped its reclamation in the South China Sea in mid-2015, which was disputed by the AMTI photos. "It is clear who is not willing to see stability in the South China Sea and who is the major factor pushing for militarization in the South China Sea".

Since October 2015, under the Obama Administration, US ships have been patrolling near the artificial islands built by China in the South China Sea to demonstrate that they are located in worldwide waters, not in Chinese waters - therefore angering Beijing.

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Speaking on condition of anonymity, USA officials have revealed the ship carried out the "freedom of navigation operation" within 12 nautical miles of the artificial island.

China has been ambiguous about its precise territorial claims around such artificial islands.

Territorial waters are defined by the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea as extending no more than 12 nautical miles from a state's coastline. US officials say the military will continue to sail, fly and operate wherever permitted by global law.

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.

Experts and officials have criticised President Barack Obama for potentially reinforcing China's claims by sticking to innocent passage, in which a warship effectively recognised a territorial sea by crossing it speedily without stopping.

"The US military's provocative actions will only encourage the Chinese military to further strengthen the defense capacity building and firmly defend national sovereignty and security", Qian said.

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