US warship challenges China's claims in South China Sea

| Updated: Aug 23, 2017 11:20 IST

Beijing [China], August 11 (ANI): China has lodged a protest against a U.S. Navy destroyer that challenged Beijing's maritime claims by passing close to the Meiji Reef of the disputed Nansha Islands in the South China Sea, saying that the United States is meddling in the region under the guise of "free navigation." USS John S. McCain, a guided-missile destroyer, 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. "China has indisputable sovereignty of the Nansha Islands and its adjacent waters and such a move severely undermines China's sovereignty and security, and severely endangers the safety of frontline personnel of both sides," he said. However, the U.S. 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. The so-called "freedom of navigation" mission involved the Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer sailing within the 12-mile range of an artificial island reclaimed by China. China reiterated that the U.S. provocation will force PLA to take further measures to strengthen homeland defense capacity. Geng said, "China has the firm determination to safeguard its territorial sovereignty and maritime interests." "Chinese Navy stated that it identified the U.S. warship, warned and expelled it as some parties from outside continue to meddle in the region under the guise of "free navigation," Geng said. "It is clear who is not willing to see stability in the South China Sea and who is the major factor pushing for militarization in the South China Sea." Recently, China-ASEAN foreign ministers' meeting adopted the framework of the Code of Conduct (COC).The Code of conduct states that South China Sea disputes should be addressed through negotiations and consultations among the countries directly concerned, and China and ASEAN countries should work together to safeguard peace and stability in the South China Sea.(ANI)