USA sends McCain's namesake to challenge Chinese maritime claims

Secretary of Foreign Affairs of Philippines Alan Peter Cayetano makes opening the speech of the 50th Association of Southeast Asian Nations Foreign Ministers Meeting in Manila Philippines

China's foreign ministry said: "The US destroyer's actions have violated Chinese and global laws, as well as severely harmed China's sovereignty and security".

Chinese defense ministry spokesman Wu Qian said the situation in the South China Sea has "stabilized" due to the "joint efforts" of China and neighbouring countries but the U.S. operation threatened "peace and stability in the region".

Responding to the so-called incursion, China's foreign ministry said it "severely harmed China's sovereignty and security".

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. "And that there is this freedom of navigation", he said.

"China has been unswervingly determined to safeguard its territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests and uphold peace and stability in the South China Sea".

Hence, it would not be surprising to see that "hard" rather than "soft politics" issues will set the tone of the rivalry between Beijing and D.C.in the coming months and years.As far as global hegemonic competitions are concerned, the USA perceives China as the only viable candidate that could potentially challenge its global dominance through empowerment in political, economic and military realms. The reef is an artificial island built by China in the Spratly Islands, known by China as the Nansha Islands.

Increasing activity by China's rapidly modernizing military has boosted tension in East Asia since the start of the year, as North Korea persists with ballistic missile and nuclear bomb tests that have stoked fears in Japan, the United States and elsewhere.

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It was the third "freedom of navigation operation" or "fonop" conducted during Trump's presidency.

Under former President Obama, the USA suspended FONOPs in the South China Sea for three years between 2012 and 2015, during which time Beijing made massive strides towards militarizing the area.

This amounts to an explicit recognition that the Philippines is toeing China's line as ASEAN's chair.

The Chinese military "immediately sent out warships" with two missile frigates identifying the United States 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.

The ship entered the Meiji Reef in the disputed Spratly Islands on Thursday.

China had the largest volume of exports passing through the disputed territory, or $US874 billion, and therefore the most to lose if commercial trade routes were disrupted by conflict.

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 Chinese military is firmly opposed to such flaunting of force and promotion of militarization in the region by the USA, which could easily trigger accidents at sea and in the air". "So why don't some of you here ask them, could you give us the pictures or can you tell us what's happening in the whole West Philippine Sea, in the whole South China Sea, because if they show that, everyone will be protesting against each other".

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