U.S. destroyer challenges China's claims in South China Sea

A maritime dispute in the South China Sea flared up on Thursday when a USA destroyer sailed near man-made island claimed by China, a move Beijing labeled a "provocation" and the United States called appropriate under global law.

McCain, a guided-missile destroyer, sailed within 12 nautical miles from Mischief Reef, one of three man-made islands that contain a runway and military fortifications constructed during the past few years.

"The US destroyer's actions have violated Chinese and global laws, as well as severely harmed China's sovereignty and security", Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Geng Shuang said in a statement.

Chinese navy guided missile frigates "took immediate action to identify and verify the USA ship, and warned and dispelled it", the Defense Ministry said.

A stronger statement was released on August 6, in which the foreign ministers said that after an extensive discussion related to the South China Sea, they took note "of the concerns expressed by some ministers on the land reclamation and activities in the area, which have eroded trust and confidence, increased tensions and may undermine peace, security and stability in the region".

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The US, Australia and Japan had issued a statement at ASEAN opposing "coercive unilateral action" and any militarisation of the islands - after Vietnam failed in a push to have the code of conduct be legally binding.

"China is resolutely opposed to this kind of show of force and pushing of regional militarisation by the USA that may easily cause an unexpected incident at sea or in the air", it said.

"Under the pretext of "navigation freedom", the United States side once again sent a military vessel into China's territorial waters off the Xisha Islands without China's approval".

Presidential Spokesman Ernesto Abella made the statement on Friday, when asked about the photos published by the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative (AMTI) of the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), which showed China's reclamation activities after 2015 - contrary to the claim of the regional giant.

But Beijing's reaction to the latest American naval operation has underscored that China has its own geopolitical sore points with the White House, including weapons sales to Taiwan and the repeated freedom of navigation operations in the South China Sea. The military has even deployed surface-to-air missiles.

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McCain sailed near Mischief Reef in a "freedom of navigation" operation. The two most recent examples of this are at Tree Island and North Island in the Amphitrite Group. China has used dredged sand to expand the original reef into an artificial island big enough to hold an airstrip.

"As you all know, U.S. forces will operate in the Asia-Pacific region".

"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 Paracels play "a key role in China's goal of establishing surveillance and power projection capabilities throughout the South China Sea", the report said. "We told them we are a usa [ship] conducting routine operations in global waters". The Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Taiwan and Brunei also have overlapping claims.

John McCain's father and grandfather, both U.S. Navy admirals.

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The Pentagon declined to provide any details but said that all operations are conducted in accordance with worldwide law.

(Copyright © 2015. All Rights Reserved.)
 
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