China vows to raise defence capabilities after United States warship approaches Nansha Islands

US sends McCain’s namesake to challenge Chinese maritime claims

The US navy destroyer, which sailed closed to the island claimed by Beijing in the South China Sea, has violated global law and endangered China's national security, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said.

Defending the first Chinese overseas naval base against criticism that it would amplify China's growing influence, he said it will act as a logistics centre and support anti- piracy, United Nations peacekeeping operations and humanitarian relief missions in the region.

Tensions on the Korean Peninsula have risen recently after North Korea carried out two nuclear tests past year and two ICBM tests last month, prompting a strong round of United Nations sanctions.

China's Foreign Ministry has once again protests the USA naval visits in what it claims are its own territorial waters. The operation on Thursday punctuated that stance.

The USS John S McCain destroyer sailed within six nautical miles of Mischief Reef - an artificial island built by China - on Thursday as part of a "freedom of navigation" operation, a US official said.

But two Chinese frigates began to follow the McCain, staying about 1,000 yards away but keeping a close watch on the ship.

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Chinese defence ministry spokesman Wu Qian said the situation in the South China Sea has "stabilised" because of "joint efforts" of China and neighbouring countries, but the U.S. operation threatened "peace and stability in the region".

A leading USA think-tank, meanwhile, released a new report documenting what it said was continuing reclamation work on Chinese-controlled islands in the area despite a recent claim by China's foreign minister that such work had stopped two years ago. "The Chinese military is firmly opposed to such flaunting of force and promotion of militarization in the region by the U.S., which could easily trigger accidents at sea and in the air".

A US Navy official said a Chinese frigate sent radio warnings at least 10 times to the USS McCain.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry issued a similar statement.

Geng said that the will of the Chinese government to safeguard national sovereignty and maritime rights and interests is firm. "And that there is this freedom of navigation", he said.

Two other US Navy ships approached China-claimed islands in the South China Sea in July and May.

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"They happen off the coast of Canada" and "in the waters off shore of our major allies, friends, partners all around the world", she said.

The United States has said that it would like to see more worldwide participation in freedom of navigation operations in the South China Sea.

China on Wednesday expressed strong dissatisfaction and firm opposition to Japan's defence white paper for 2017 which accused Beijing of trying to change the status quo in the East and South China Sea based on "its own assertions".

The Djibouti base will also provide a resting place for Chinese navy personnel, he said.

It was reportedly the third freedom of navigation operation challenging the territorial claims of China in the region since US President Donald Trump took office.

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