US warship sails near island; China protests

Peter Castro
August 12, 2017

China's Foreign Ministry confirmed the patrol, saying that the operation had violated global and Chinese law and seriously harmed Beijing's sovereignty and security, adding that the Chinese Navy had "warned and expelled" the US warship.

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.

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

The operation took part in the South China Sea amid a backdrop of increasing tension in the region due to the ongoing North Korea crisis.

Beijing claims nearly the entirety of the South China Sea, has deployed naval units and has reclaimed land from the sea to expand its presence, sparking protests from its neighbours.

"At this time, if you ask who is carrying out reclamation, it is definitely not China - perhaps it is the country that brings up the issue that is doing it", Yi said.

And today it was revealed President Donald Trump has sent a direct message to China by deploying a fearsome Navy destroyer near a Chinese island in a move which could be interpreted as "back us or else".

Cayetano had even wanted to exclude any mention of China's land reclamation activities and militarization in a joint communiqué of ASEAN foreign ministers during their meeting in Manila last week.

Japan's Defense White Paper reads that Beijing has been trying to change the status quo in the East and South China Seas based on its own claims, and this has become a common concern for the region and the whole world.

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"China has the firm determination to safeguard its territorial sovereignty and maritime interests", Geng said.

The United States has criticized 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.

A spokesman for the Chinese foreign minister said: "China dispatched military vessels and fighter planes in response to warn off the United States vessel".

The photos, with August 5, 2017 being the most recent release, showed infrastructure and land reclamation in the Tree Island and the North Island.

"McCain" illegally entered the waters near the reef and conducted a so-called "freedom of navigation operation" on Thursday without permission of the Chinese government, Xinhua quoted Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang as saying.

"And the point of that is to demonstrate that the United States will continue to fly, sail and operate wherever global law allows".

The Joint Communiqué reflects the consensus of the ministers on issues concerning ASEAN, wherein Vietnam and the Philippines are member states.

In the previous administration, the Philippines was among the major voices in the regional bloc calling for stronger wording in ASEAN statements against China and its aggression in the South China Sea.

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