Yokosuka-based USA destroyer challenges Beijing's claims in disputed South China Sea

The USS John Mc Cain destroyer in the Asia Pacific region

The AMTI photos show that "Beijing continues to reclaim land farther north" of the South China Sea, "in the Paracel Islands", features claimed not by the Philippines but by Vietnam.

He added that the Chinese navy identified the United States warship, issued a warning and finally expelled it from the area, without giving further details.

The South China Morning Post ran an editorial in late July denouncing USA freedom of navigation patrols as "ineffective" because they don't seem to have influenced Beijing's behavior at all, and yet also "risky" because they might push Beijing too far.

The country's Defense Ministry also lambasted the US move, calling it a "provocative act" that had seriously damaged mutual trust.

"This clearly shows just who doesn't want to see stability maintained in the South China Sea, and who is the biggest factor in pushing the 'militarization" of the South China Sea".

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It's part of the Spratly Islands, where China has built artificial islands to shore up its claim. US officials say the military will continue to sail, fly and operate wherever permitted by global law.

"The new developments, that will have to be taken up [in] future ASEAN discussions", he added. "Summaries of these operations will be released publicly in the annual FONOPS report, and not sooner".

But the U.S. has snubbed that claim by sailing ships through the huge waterway.

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.

USNI News notes this is the third patrol under the schedule presented to President Trump by the Office of the Secretary of Defense and U.S. Pacific Command.

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The patrol was the third under Trump, and the second this year around Mischief Reef, a land feature that was included in a ruling last year against China by an global arbitration court in The Hague.

A Chinese frigate has warned off a United States destroyer carrying out a new freedom of navigation operation in the South China Sea, which is nearly entirely claimed by China.

China, which despite a pledge to the contrary, has continued to militarize the waters as it seeks to reinforce effective control of much of the waterway, through which at least $3 trillion in trade passes each year.

China has recently installed rocket launchers on a disputed island in the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea in order to fend off Vietnam's claims, according to a report.

US, Japan, and Australia have denounced China's island building and militarization of the South China Sea. Beijing has called the moves purely defensive.

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