China protests U.S. ship sailing by island in South China Sea

China protests U.S. ship sailing by island in South China Sea

This is not the first a USA ship has sailed close to the disputed island in the South China Sea, last month the USS Stethem sailed within 12 nautical miles of Triton island in the Paracel archipelago, which is claimed by China, Vietnam and Taiwan.

McCain sailed near Mischief Reef in a "freedom of navigation" operation.

McCain "traveled close to Mischief Reef in the Spratly Islands, among a string of islets, reefs and shoals", Reuters reported.

Washington is dependent on Beijing to rein in the belligerent North Korea. The operation on Thursday punctuated that stance.

In July, a USA warship sailed near a disputed island in the South China Sea claimed by China, Taiwan, Vietnam.

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

It's part of the Spratly Islands, where China has built artificial islands to shore up its claim. However, the USA says its patrols are aimed at showing support for free passage to vessels in global waters.

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

He added that the Chinese Navy identified the warship, warned and expelled it.

"China is very displeased with this and will bring up the issue with the U.S. side", the ministry said.

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On Thursday, State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert was asked at a briefing whether "freedom of navigation" and other issues serve to "make for a more hard campaign on North Korea with China".

"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.

But Nicole Schwegman, spokeswoman for the U.S. Pacific Fleet, said that United States forces operated in the Asia Pacific region on a daily basis. They do that on a daily basis, including the South China Sea.

"We told them we are a U.S. [ship] conducting routine operations in global waters".

"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.

China claims almost all of the sea, through which $5 trillion in annual shipping trade passes and which is believed to sit atop vast oil and gas deposits.

China, which claims virtually the entire South China Sea, routinely protests such operations.

In a joint statement after a meeting Monday of US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and his Australian and Japanese counterparts, the three officials "expressed serious concerns over maritime disputes in the South China Sea".

The whole territory of the South China Sea, which is believed to be extremely rich in energy resources, is disputed.

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