China protests U.S. warship approaching Meiji reef

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Navy destroyer carried out a "freedom of navigation operation" on Thursday, coming within 12 nautical miles of an artificial island built by China in the South China Sea, US officials said.

The Chinese military "immediately sent out warships" with two missile frigates identifying the U.S. naval destroyer and warning it away from Mischief Reef in the Spratly Islands, which China calls the Nansha Islands, according to China's foreign ministry.

A spokesman for the Chinese foreign minister said: "China dispatched military vessels and fighter planes in response to warn off the United States vessel".

Japan's Defense White Paper reads that Beijing has been trying to change the status quo in the East and South China Seas based on its own claims, and this has become a common concern for the region and the whole world.

In July, the USS Stethem, a guided-missile destroyer, sailed within 12 nautical miles of Triton Island in the South China Sea for the second "fonop".

China expressed its "strong dissatisfaction" with the United States over the Navy's latest freedom of navigation operation in which a warship sailed past one of China's man-made islands in the strategic South China Sea.

Wang's claim "is false" and China's reclamation work "did not end in mid-2015 with the completion of its artificial islands in the Spratlys", said the report.

In a statement late Thursday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang called the US Navy's action a "provocation" that "severely undermines China's sovereignty and security, and severely endangers the safety of frontline personnel of both sides". The Chinese Foreign Ministry issued a similar statement.

"Freedom of navigation is guaranteed and anyone can do it so we just need to monitor", Padilla said in the same Palace press briefing.

An worldwide 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.

China had the largest volume of exports passing through the disputed territory, or $US874 billion, and therefore the most to lose if commercial trade routes were disrupted by conflict.

The Pentagon declined to provide any details but said that all operations are conducted in accordance with worldwide law.

"The 2017 Defence White Paper. still contains cliche about China, which is full of vicious denigration of the Chinese military and blatant deception of the global community", said Col Wu.

The operations, according to anonymous officials, were meant to challenge China's claim on trade routes now contested by Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan, and Vietnam.

The archipelago is claimed in its entirety by China, Taiwan and Vietnam, while portions are claimed by Malaysia and the Philippines.


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