United States warship challenges China's claims in South China Sea

Ebony Scott
August 11, 2017

A "displeased" Beijing has slammed a US Navy destroyer's "freedom of navigation operation" near one of its artificial islands in the South China Sea, labelling the exercise a provocation.

A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman said in a statement that the USS John S. McCain had violated Chinese and worldwide law, undermined Chinese sovereignty and security, and endangered the safety of frontline personnel.

Philippine marines stationed in a marooned ship on a disputed shoal may have monitored the U.S. Navy operation because they are based near Mischief Reef, which is also claimed by the Philippines, the official said.

The U.S.is not involved in the long-seething disputes in the busy and potentially oil- and gas-rich waters involving China, Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam.

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

But Beijing's reaction to the latest American naval operation has underscored that China has its own geopolitical sore points with the White House, including weapons sales to Taiwan and the repeated freedom of navigation operations in the South China Sea.

The islands are reportedly capable of hosting warplanes, mobile missile launchers and other military assets.

In the latest sail-by, USA military officials notified Philippine counterparts of the maneuver, a Philippine official told the AP, adding Filipino forces were not involved.

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Now it seems China's patience with the territorial row is running out. The significance of the distance of 12 nautical miles derives from the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), which generally grants coastal states jurisdiction over seas within 12 nautical miles of the coast.

The problem with suspending them, as even this editorial acknowledges, is that many of America's regional allies see the operations as tangible reminders of the USA commitment to keeping the South China Sea open for business.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, United States officials have revealed the ship carried out the "freedom of navigation operation" within 12 nautical miles of the artificial island.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, the United States official told AFP a Chinese frigate sent radio warnings at least 10 times to the USS McCain.

"However, some parties from outside continue to meddle in the region under the guise of free navigation", Geng said.

China insists that a much-delayed code of conduct between it and ASEAN members over the disputed sea must not be legally binding, a demand to which Southeast Asian countries have so far acquiesced.

"It is clear who is not willing to see stability in the South China Sea and who is the major factor pushing for militarization in the South China Sea".

Other reports by GizPress

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