US warship sails close to Chinese man-made island

US warship sails close to Chinese man-made island

The so-called "freedom of navigation" mission involved the Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer sailing within the 12-mile range of an artificial island reclaimed by China, Reuters reported, citing United States officials, speaking on condition of anonymity.

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

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

"The US military's provocative actions will only encourage the Chinese military to further strengthen the defence capacity building and firmly defend national sovereignty and security", said Wu.

Vietnam representatives challenged Philippines and urged the ASEAN community to rally behind Vietnam to contest the expansion of China's infrastructure and the outposts on the disputed islands in the South China Sea. "And that there is this freedom of navigation", he said.

The South China Sea has always been a source of territorial disputes between several Asian countries.

It adds China should also make clear that if North Korea launches missiles that threaten US soil and the USA retaliates, "China will stay neutral".

It's part of the Spratly Islands, where China has built artificial islands to shore up its claim.

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China's neighbors in the Pacific have feared that that the US's focus on North Korea may distract them from protecting freedom of navigation in the South China Sea, but a recent uptick in FONOPs from the USA may quell that fear.

The dispute over the McCain revolves around China's claim of sovereignty to the Spratlys, one of many quarrels in the contentious region.

This is the third time that the US Navy has conducted a "freedom of navigation operation" or "fonop" under the Donald Trump presidency.

"Compared with the Philippines, which has territorial disputes with China over the Spratly Islands, Vietnam and China's dispute involves a wider region, in both the Spratly and the Paracel islands", said Zhang Baohui, professor of worldwide affairs at Lingnan University in Hong Kong.

According to the Chinese Foreign Ministry, such actions do not contribute to sustaining stability in the region, being the "biggest factor in the "militarization" of the South China Sea".

A leading US think tank, meanwhile, released a new report documenting what it said was continuing reclamation work on Chinese-controlled islands in the area despite a recent claim by China's foreign minister that such work had stopped two years ago.

China and the Asean countries are focusing on strengthening cooperation to promote comprehensive and effective implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) and jointly develop regional rules. For the US, on the other hand, exaggerating the actual threat posed by North Korea is useful to legitimize its increased geostrategic presence in the Pacific, as well as to increase its military support for key allies in the region. "It's true in other places around the world, as well", she added. Yet China apparently still claims the nine-dash line or exclusive economic zones (EEZs) from the Spratly features it occupies and has threatened to use force to back its claim.

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