China voices strong protest against United States warship sails in South China Sea

Claudine Rigal
Août 12, 2017

Citing U.S. officials speaking on condition of anonymity, the newswire said USS John S. McCain sailed close to Mischief Reef in the Spratly Islands, an area which China is in a territorial dispute over with its neighbors.

Washington is dependent on Beijing to rein in the belligerent North Korea.

China expressed "strong dissatisfaction" Friday, after a USA warship sailed near an artificial island in the strategic South China Sea.

An global tribunal refuted China's claim to a large swathe of the South China Sea in 2016 in a case brought by the Philippines, though Beijing has rejected the ruling.

The South China Sea is filled with small islands, reefs and shoals and there are many territorial disputes between countries in the area.

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.

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

Washington's critical actions came as it courts the help of China, North Korea's ally, in taming Pyongyang's nuclear weapons ambitions and ending its missile tests.

Geng added the Chinese Navy identified the U.S. warship, warned and expelled it.

"They called and said 'Please turn around, you are in our waters, '" the official said.

The US has criticised China's construction of islands and build-up of military facilities in the sea. The Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Taiwan and Brunei also have overlapping claims.

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

"The Spratly Islands consist of more than 100 small islands or reefs surrounded by rich fishing grounds - and potentially by gas and oil deposits", the CIA World Factbook said.

China, which despite a pledge to the contrary, has continued to militarize the waters as it seeks to reinforce effective control of much of the waterway, through which at least $3 trillion in trade passes each year.

China's foreign ministry said the operation had "violated worldwide and Chinese law and seriously harmed Beijing's sovereignty and security".

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