China protests United States 'freedom of navigation'

Andrew Cummings
August 11, 2017

The operation occurred at an awkward and tense moment, amid the war of words between the United States and North Korea.

Thursday's mission comes as the U.S. seeks greater Chinese involvement on resolving the tension over its neighbor, North Korea's, continuing missile tests, which are perceived in Washington as a serious threat to the USA and its regional allies. The operation on Thursday punctuated that stance.

The operation comes four days after the US, Australia, and Japan denounced China's island-building and militarisation of the South China Sea on the sidelines of a security forum of the 10-nation Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in the Philippine capital, Manila.

Tensions escalated a few years ago when China began to build seven reefs, including Mischief, into islands, including three with runways.

China, which claims the South China Sea virtually in entirety, has protested such US military operations, which President Donald Trump's administration has continued partly to reassure allies locked in territorial rifts with Beijing. "China's air force can not simply guard on land and not go out", Ma said in a report broadcast by Hong Kong-based Phoenix Television, which was posted to the air force's official microblog late the same day.

Beijing upbraided the United States for the latest move.

"China is very displeased with this and will bring up the issue with the USA side", the ministry said. "This clearly shows who does not want a stable South China Sea and who is the major force driving the militarization in these waters", the ministry spokesperson said.

According to the Chinese Defense, Chinese navy guided missile frigates "took immediate action to identify and verify the U.S. ship, and warned and dispelled it". "It's not reflective of the present position", the Foreign Affairs Secretary said. The operations are conducted in accordance with worldwide law.

"And the point of that is to demonstrate that the United States will continue to fly, sail and operate wherever global law allows. It's true in other places around the world, as well", Nauert said.

The report added that Beijing "continues to reclaim land farther north", referring to the Paracel Islands disputed by both China and Vietnam.

The United States has criticised China's construction of islands and build-up of military facilities in the sea, and is concerned they could be used to restrict free nautical movement.

The Spratlys are about 600 miles from the Chinese coast.

"They are claimed in their entirety by China, Taiwan and Vietnam, while portions are claimed by Malaysia and the Philippines. Brunei claims an exclusive economic zone over this area".

"China holds indisputable sovereignty over Nansha Islands and surrounding waters", the defense ministry stated.

The official told The Associated Press that Chinese vessels were in the vicinity when the USS John S. McCain sailed in a "routine" freedom of navigation operation near Mischief Reef Thursday.

"We are not the spokesman for the Chinese".

"China is very displeased with this and will bring up the issue with the USA side", the Chinese Foreign Ministry said in a statement posted in its official website late Thursday.

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