United States destroyer challenges China's claims in South China Sea

United States destroyer challenges China's claims in South China Sea”

The freedom of navigation operation was the third of its kind carried out by the United States since Prez Trump took office in January.

A U.S. warship sailed close to a Chinese man-made island in the disputed South China Sea in an operation that challenged China's vast territorial claims in busy worldwide waters, a U.S. Navy official said Thursday.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry called on the United States to respect its sovereignty and security interests after the USA guided missile destroyer John S. McCain approached a disputed island in the South China Sea.

"China is very displeased with this and will bring up the issue with the US side", the ministry said in a statement.

A US Navy official told The Associated Press that the destroyer USS John S. McCain sailed past Mischief Reef on Thursday but gave no details.

The South China Sea is filled with small islands, reefs and shoals and there are many territorial disputes between countries in the area.

A U.S. official said a Chinese frigate sent radio warnings at least 10 times to the USS McCain. "We told them we are a United States (ship) conducting routine operations in global waters".

The official said the interactions were all "safe and professional", with the operation lasting about six hours from start to finish.

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

But Washington's patrols have often angered Beijing because the USA is not a claimant in the territorial dispute in the mineral-rich South China Sea. It's true in the South China Sea. The Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Taiwan and Brunei also have overlapping claims.

But in recent years Beijing has managed to weaken regional resistance by courting some ASEAN members.

China has territorial disputes with its neighbours over the area.

China's Defense Ministry said two Chinese warships "jumped into action" and warned the USA ship to leave, labeling the move a "provocation" that seriously harms mutual trust.

"It is clear who is not willing to see stability in the South China Sea and who is the major factor pushing for militarisation in the South China Sea", the spokesperson said.

The US administration has been prodding China to work with North Korea through its diplomatic channels to tone down Kim's nuclear ambitions but Pentagon officials, including President Trump have felt increasingly frustrated with Chinese officials.

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