US Navy Destroyer Sails Within Reach Of Disputed Chinese Territory

The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS John S. Mc Cain sailing in the waters off the Korean Peninsula

Beijing voiced displeasure today after a United States warship sailed near an artificial island in the disputed South China Sea, an operation that prompted the Chinese navy to warn off the American destroyer.

A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman said in a statement that the USS John S. McCain had violated Chinese and global law, undermined Chinese sovereignty and security, and endangered the safety of frontline personnel.

China, which claims the South China Sea virtually in entirety, has protested such repeated US military operations, which President Donald Trump's administration has continued partly to reassure allies locked in territorial rifts with Beijing.

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The operation came as President Donald Trump's administration seeks Chinese cooperation in dealing with North Korea's missile and nuclear programs and could complicate efforts to secure a common stance. However, the U.S. says its patrols are aimed at showing support for free passage to vessels in worldwide waters.

Sailing within those 12 miles is meant to show that the United States does not recognize territorial claims there.

"Beijing can now deploy military assets, including combat aircraft and mobile missile launchers, to the Spratly Islands at any time", the US-based think tank had said in June.

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Beijing claims nearly the entirety of the South China Sea, has deployed naval units and has reclaimed land from the sea to expand its presence, sparking protests from its neighbours.

"The Chinese army immediately sent warships (to the area) in accordance with the law to implement the identification of the U.S. ship and warn it off", the spokesperson said. Nicole Schwegman said all Navy operations "are conducted in accordance with worldwide law and demonstrate that the United States will fly, sail, and operate wherever global law allows".

China has blasted the US Navy for sending yet another warship close to Chinese-held territories in the South China Sea, saying it amounted to a breach of China's sovereignty. The operations are conducted in accordance with global law. It is also believed to be rich in natural resources, including oil.

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China's claims in the South China Sea, through which about $5 trillion in ship-borne trade passes each year are contested by Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam. Beijing called the move a "serious political and military provocation". China has territorial disputes with its neighbors over the area.

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