Saturday, 20 January, 2018

US warship sails near islands China claims in South China Sea

US destroyer challenges Beijing’s ‘excessive maritime claims’ in South China Sea – report US warship sails near islands China claims in South China Sea
Melinda Barton | 11 October, 2017, 16:54

A United States Navy destroyer sailed close to islands being claimed by China in South China Sea on Tuesday, Reuters said in an exclusive report quoting three USA government officials.

"In the face of repeated provocation by the United States forces, the Chinese military will further strengthen preparation for combat at sea and in the air and improve the defences to resolutely defend national sovereignty and security interests", the defence ministry said.

"We are continuing regular FONOPS, as we have routinely done in the past and will continue to do in the future", Lieutenant Colonel Chris Logan said in a statement.The US Navy regularly carries out such operations to challenge China's vast claims to the South China Sea, where Beijing has turned reefs into militarised artificial islands.

She said the US military ship's conduct violated Chinese and relevant worldwide laws, seriously damaged China's sovereignty and security interests, and put the lives of people at the frontline at risk.

Trump's administration is also seeking China's cooperation to rein in North Korea, In recent weeks, North Korea has launched two missiles over Japan and conducted its sixth nuclear test, all in defiance of UN Security Council resolutions, and may be fast advancing towards its goal of developing a nuclear-tipped missile capable of hitting the U.S. mainland.

The Chinese defence ministry said the operation would affect trust between the Chinese and United States militaries, and could trigger "unwanted incidents".

"China will continue to take resolute measures to protect Chinese sovereign territory and maritime interests".

The US Navy missile destroyer Chafee entered into China's territorial waters near the Sansha islands on Tuesday. China is North Korea's neighbour and biggest trading partner.

Sailing within the mark is a signal that the United States does not recognise territorial claims in the area.

All or parts of the sea are also claimed by Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam, which has led to intense territorial disputes and naval standoffs.

Expressing firm opposition to the US move, Hua said China will continue to take resolute measures to protect its territorial sovereignty and maritime interests.

The South China Sea has crucial shipping lanes, rich fishing grounds and potential oil, gas and other mineral deposits.