Global News

China protests USA 'freedom of navigation'

China protests USA 'freedom of navigation'

The U.S. destroyer sailed 6 nautical miles past Mischief Reef Thursday as part of a freedom of navigation operation in global waters, a U.S. navy official said on condition of anonymity.

China, which claims virtually the entire South China Sea, routinely protests such operations, which President Donald Trump's administration has continued partly to reassure allies locked in territorial disputes with Beijing.

The new development comes amid Washington's attempts to get Beijing on board for more worldwide pressure on North Korea over its development of nuclear warheads and ballistic missiles.

"China holds indisputable sovereignty over Nansha Islands and surrounding waters", the Chinese Defense Ministry said early Friday.

It is the third time this year that United States ships traveled within 12 nautical miles of land claimed by China, the report said.

Beijing has also urged Washington to respect "the joint efforts of the regional countries to maintain peace and stability in the South China Sea".

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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.

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.

"All operations are conducted in accordance with global law and demonstrate that the United States will fly, sail, and operate wherever worldwide law allows", she said. The operations are conducted in accordance with worldwide law.

"The Chinese side is very displeased and will make solemn representations to the US", the ministry said in a statement.

The South China Sea is crucial for Chinese foreign trade, serving as a major transportation route for minerals, energy and Chinese-made goods. China has territorial disputes with its neighbors over the area.

"The US provocation also forced the Chinese side to take measures to further enhance the national defense capability", it added. About 45 islands are occupied by relatively small numbers of military forces from China, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam.


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