China Opposes Japan Statements on South China Sea

Calvin Saunders
August 12, 2017

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

USA officials confirmed that the USS John S. McCain had sailed to Mischief Reef.

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 military "immediately sent out warships" with two missile frigates identifying the United States 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. "The Chinese military is firmly opposed to such flaunting of force and promotion of militarization in the region by the USA, which could easily trigger accidents at sea and in the air".

China, which claims virtually the entire South China Sea, routinely protests such operations.

"Under the pretext of "navigation freedom", the USA side once again sent a military vessel into China's territorial waters off the Xisha Islands without China's approval".

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.

Cayetano had even wanted to exclude any mention of China's land reclamation activities and militarization in a joint communiqué of ASEAN foreign ministers during their meeting in Manila last week. That occurred around Triton Island in the Paracel archipelago, which is claimed by China, Vietnam and Taiwan.

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.

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On Thursday, State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert was asked at a briefing whether "freedom of navigation" and other issues serve to "make for a more hard campaign on North Korea with China".

According to Reuters, the maneuver by the USS John S. McCain was the third in a "freedom of navigation operation" or "fonop".

U.S. Pacific Fleet spokeswoman Lt. Cmdr.

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

"We told them we are a United States (ship) conducting routine operations in worldwide waters", the official added.

The US does not recognise China's claims to the area.

Vietnamese coastguard vessels also held their first joint exercises with their Japanese counterparts in June, simulating an operation to thwart illegal fishing in the South China Sea.

Its sweeping claims overlap with Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei - all ASEAN members - as well as Taiwan.

Other reports by MaliBehiribAe

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