Published: Sat, August 12, 2017
World | By Paul Elliott

China "displeased" as US Navy destroyer passes near artificial island


The U.S. destroyer sailed 6 nautical miles past Mischief Reef Thursday as part of a freedom of navigation operation in global waters, a U.S. navy official said on condition of anonymity.

On Thursday، the US Navy's USS John S. McCain warship sailed within 12 miles of Mischief Reef in the disputed Spratly chain in the South China Sea.

A leading USA think-tank, meanwhile, released a new report documenting what it said was continuing reclamation work on Chinese-controlled islands in the area despite a recent claim by China's foreign minister that such work had stopped two years ago.

China claims nearly all of the South China Sea and is now building multiple artificial islands in the area to control them as more than half of the world's annual cargo fleet passes through it.

China has voiced discontent with the United States after an American warship sailed near an artificial island in the disputed South China Sea.

Geng said that the will of the Chinese government to safeguard national sovereignty and maritime rights and interests is firm.

Firing back at criticism of China's activities, Foreign Minister Wang Yi said Monday that China had "stopped or already completed land reclamation" on its holdings in the South China Sea two years ago.

But China scoffed at the USA, calling the move a "provocation" that could seriously damage the two countries' strategic trust and also create difficulties and obstacles for their defence forces, Reuters reported.

Twelve nautical miles marks the territorial limits recognised internationally.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry issued a similar statement.

Beijing is sensitive to even a veiled reference by ASEAN to its reclamation of seven reefs and its military installations in the South China Sea, which it claims in nearly its entirety despite the competing claims of five other countries.

"They called and said 'Please turn around, you are in our waters, '" he said.

Defending the first Chinese overseas naval base against criticism that it would amplify China's growing influence, he said it will act as a logistics centre and support anti-piracy, United Nations peacekeeping operations and humanitarian relief missions in the region.

In July, the "USS Stethem" passed near another island in the South China Sea claimed by Beijing as its territory and contested by Taiwan and Vietnam.

On Sunday, China and Asean Foreign Ministers adopted a framework of the Code of Conduct (COC) in the South China Sea, said Geng, noting that all parties affirmed the positive situation in the South China Sea and highly appreciated the early cooperation results, such as the China-Asean senior diplomats hotline.

AMTI said China has been intensifying its military capabilities in the Paracel Islands.

The US military has a long-standing position that its operations are carried out throughout the world, including in areas claimed by allies, and they are separate from political considerations.

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