China protests United States 'freedom of navigation'

China protests United States 'freedom of navigation'

China expressed "strong dissatisfaction" Friday, after a US warship sailed near an artificial island in the strategic South China Sea.

McCain on Thursday entered the waters near Mishchief Reef in the Spratly Islands to carry out freedom of navigation operations in the area, reports Efe news.

Pentagon spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Chris Logan declined to comment on whether there had been a freedom of navigation sailing but he said the United States would continue to do such operations.

"China is strongly dissatisfied with this", Geng said in a statement, adding that Beijing would lodge an official protest with Washington.

However, the US officials said that the USS John S. McCain sailed past an island in the disputed Spratly chain in the South China Sea, which is the third mission under the Trump administration.

"It would be best if this apparent evidence can be vetted for accuracy if only to prove the trust and confidence that all disputants over the territory in South China Sea.need to have in each other moving forward", said President Rodrigo Duterte's spokesman.

The United States and its regional allies have accused Beijing of inflaming tensions in the South China Sea by expanding islands and reefs into military installations, refusing multilateral negotiations over overlapping territorial claims and spurning a ruling a year ago from an global tribunal that rejected the legality of China's claims to much of the sea.

On that occasion China accused America of "trespass" and deployed their military in a sabre-rattling attempt to scare the navy off.

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China is reported to be inching a step closer to military dominance in the hotly-contested waters as it has continued to build missile shelters on Fiery Cross, Mischief and Subi Reefs in the Spratly archipelago, according to the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative (AMTI), which is part of Washington's Center for Strategic and International Studies.

To shore up its position against China, Vietnam has beefed up its naval strength and quietly fortified several of its islands in the disputed waters.

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". They do that on a daily basis, including the South China Sea.

In a joint statement after a meeting Monday of US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and his Australian and Japanese counterparts, the three officials "expressed serious concerns over maritime disputes in the South China Sea". Reuters reported that $5 trillion in ship-borne trade passes through the disputed trade route each year, and the Trump administration vowed to conduct more robust operations in the region in order to maintain these trade routes.

The Pentagon declined to provide any details but said that all operations are conducted in accordance with global law.

Mischief Reef is controlled by China but also claimed by the Philippines, Vietnam and Taiwan.

The U.S.is reportedly concerned that China's construction of artificial islands and build-up of military facilities in the South China Sea are meant to restrict nautical movement in the area.

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