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China voices strong protest against U.S. warship sails in South China Sea

China voices strong protest against U.S. warship sails in South China Sea”

A U.S. Navy destroyer challenged China's territorial claim on trade routes in the South China Sea on Thursday when the vessel came within 12 nautical miles of an artificial island China built in the area.

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

Asked to comment on the challenges faced by the PLAN in the South China Sea, especially from the US Navy, commanding officer of Yulin Capt Hu Luyang said it was okay for the American navy to patrol the area in the worldwide waters.

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

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

The Foreign Ministry pointed out that that the so-called U.S. "freedom of navigation" mission was carried out without authorization from Beijing, with has "indisputable sovereignty over the Nansha Islands (Spratley) and its surrounding waters".

This was the US Navy's third such mission under Donald Trump's presidency.

Vietnam has competing claims over the Spratly Islands and was reportedly recently threatened by China to stop oil drilling. The Department of Foreign Affairs did not comment further on the issue. Geng reiterated the Chinese government's willingness to safeguard national sovereignty and its maritime rights and interests.

The US says it supports none of the nations' claims in the area and insists that the sea should be a neutral space available for free navigation.

He also voiced resentment at a call by Australia, Japan and the United States to enforce the arbitral ruling and for a legally binding code of conduct in the vital sea lanes, saying: "The problem of territorial dispute is between Philippines and China".

But analysts feel the opening of the first Chinese military base overseas was in tune with PLAN's ambitions to expand its global reach amidst China's growing economic and political footprint.

Tokyo's ties with Beijing have always been plagued by a territorial dispute over a group of tiny, uninhabited East China Sea islets and the legacy of Japan's wartime aggression.

"The continuing reclamation and militarization of disputed territories in the waters, if the report from a Washington-based think tank are accurate, these can be taken up by the ASEAN in future discussions. The operations are conducted in accordance with global law", she said.

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