U.S. warship sails near South China Sea, Beijing denounces Washington's move

US Navy Destroyer Sails Near Islands Claimed by China in South China Sea

US Navy Destroyer Sails Near Islands Claimed by China in South China Sea

Beijing condemned the mission of the guided-missile destroyer USS 'Chafee, ' which on Tuesday sailed within 16 nautical miles of the disputed Paracel Islands in the South China Sea, within the framework of a so-called "freedom of navigation" operation.

Unlike in August, when a U.S. Navy destroyer came within 12 nautical miles of an artificial island built up by China in the South China Sea, officials said the destroyer on Tuesday sailed close to but not within that range of the islands.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson at a news briefing in Beijing today said a guided missile destroyer intrusion in its territorial water is the violation of global laws and damaged China's sovereignty. The Paracel archipelago is claimed by China, Taiwan and Vietnam, while the Spratly Islands are additionally contested by the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei.

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China's Defense Ministry said Wednesday that it sent a warship, two fighter jets and a helicopter to warn the US destroyer away, calling the move a "provocation".

"China sent military vessels and planes to investigate and identify the US military ship and warned it to leave", Hua said at a regular news briefing.

The US "stirs up trouble" and runs "in the opposite direction from countries in the region who aspire for stability, cooperation and development", a statement from the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs said at the time.

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The incident with the USS "Chafee" would affect trust between the militaries of the two countries, the ministry stated, adding that further operations of such nature might trigger "unwanted incidents". The trip will include a stop in China, which Trump has been pressuring to do more to rein in North Korea.

China claims nearly all of the South China Sea, and has heavily militarized some islands in the region and expanded other territories with major land reclamation work, turning sandbars into islands and equipping them with airfields, ports and weapons systems. Beijing accuses the USA of violating its sovereignty, while Washington claims the missions support "freedom of navigation" in the region. "China is firmly opposed to that and has lodged stern representations with the U.S.".

China, in turn, has accused the United States of illegally trespassing into what it sees as its territorial waters. The U.S. president's attempts to get Chinese help with North Korea have met with limited success so far, but he has gone out of his way to thank Xi for his efforts.

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