China protests United States warship approaching Meiji reef

Interaction between the Chinese and U.S. ships was "safe and professional", according to an unnamed USA official. China considered this a large concession to the USA, the Guardian said. In November, ASEAN leaders and their counterparts from dialogue partners, including China, will gather in Clark Freeport in Pampanga for the 31st ASEAN Leaders' Summit and Related Meetings.

"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.

The Foreign Ministry pointed out that that the so-called U.S. "freedom of navigation" mission was carried out without authorization from Beijing, with has "indisputable sovereignty over the Nansha Islands (Spratley) and its surrounding waters".

Beijing upbraided the United States for the Thursday's operation - the third reported under the Trump administration.

China expressed its "strong dissatisfaction" with the USA 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.

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.

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. The ruling was adamantly rejected by the Chinese government.

The building of military and dual-use infrastructure on the three biggest islands in the contested Spratly chain - Mischief, Subi and Fiery Cross reefs - has reached the final stages, with naval, air, radar and defensive facilities largely complete, the report said.

Territorial waters are defined by the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea as extending no more than 12 nautical miles from a state's coastline. It was not immediately clear if the Chinese demanded the US destroyer leave as they have done in the past.

The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain sailed near China's artificial islands in the South China Sea on Thursday.

McCain was sent close to Mischief Reef in the Spratly Islands, a direct challenge to China's disputed territorial claims to the area.

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

"They happen off the coast of Canada" and "in the waters off shore of our major allies, friends, partners all around the world", she said. "We told them we are a United States [ship] conducting routine operations in global waters".

The official said the interactions were all "safe and professional", with the operation lasting about six hours from start to finish, but Geng said such operations "seriously endanger lives".

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

Foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said on Friday the operation had violated Chinese and worldwide law, "seriously" impairing the country's sovereignty and security as well as "endangering lives".

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.

The US says it supports none of the nations' claims in the area and insists that the sea should be a neutral space available for free navigation.

"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.

  • Kyle Peterson