China protests U.S. warship approaching Meiji reef

John S. Mc Cain at sea

China protests U.S. warship approaching Meiji reef

China said it was "very displeased" after a U.S. Navy destroyer conducted a so-called freedom of navigation patrol (FONOP) within 12 nautical miles (22 km) of an artificial island built up by China in the South China Sea.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang said the USS Naval ship John S. McCain illegally entered the waters near the Meiji Reef Islands without permission of the Chinese government.

Interaction between the Chinese and United States ships was "safe and professional", according to an unnamed USA official.

The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the official was not authorized to speak to the press about the matter.

It was the third "freedom of navigation operation" or "fonop" conducted during Mr Trump's presidency, with China reacting angrily to a similar move last month.

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Speaking on condition of anonymity, U.S. officials have revealed the ship carried out the "freedom of navigation operation" within 12 nautical miles of the artificial island. The island itself is claimed by China, Taiwan, and Vietnam. An estimated $5 trillion in annual trade passes through the waterway.

Since October 2015, under the Obama Administration, US ships have been patrolling near the artificial islands built by China in the South China Sea to demonstrate that they are located in global waters, not in Chinese waters - therefore angering Beijing.

Geng added the Chinese Navy identified the U.S. warship, warned and expelled it. "All operations are conducted in accordance with global law and demonstrate that the United States will fly, sail, and operate wherever worldwide law allows".

Abella fielded questions on the issue in a news briefing 3 days after Philippine Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano echoed China in saying Beijing had stopped its reclamation in the South China Sea in mid-2015, which was disputed by the AMTI photos.

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"U.S. forces operate in the Asia-Pacific region on a daily basis, including in the South China Sea", spokesman Lt. Col. Christopher Logan said.

Beijing claims nearly the entirety of the South China Sea, has deployed naval units and has reclaimed land from the sea to expand its presence, sparking protests from its neighbours.

Duterte has set aside any mention of the global court ruling won by the Philippines against in China.

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.

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