US Navy challenges China's claims in disputed territory

Floating A Diplomatic Solution In The South China Sea

"However, some parties from outside continue to meddle in the region under the guise of free navigation", Geng said.

Thursday's operation, first reported by Reuters, was the latest attempt to counter what Washington sees as Beijing's efforts to limit freedom of navigation in the strategic waters, and comes as Trump is seeking China's cooperation to rein in North Korea.

The dispute over the McCain revolves around China's claim of sovereignty to the Spratlys, one of many quarrels in the contentious region. Sailing within those 12 miles is meant to show that the United States does not recognize territorial claims there. The operation on Thursday punctuated that stance.

A military official said the ship performed a drill and confirmed two Chinese frigates shadowed the McCain near Mischief Reef, with the ships never getting closer than 1,000 yards.

Experts and officials have criticized former President Barack Obama for potentially reinforcing China's claims by sticking to innocent passage, in which a warship effectively recognized a territorial sea by crossing it speedily without stopping.

China, which despite a pledge to the contrary, has continued to militarize the waters as it seeks to reinforce effective control of much of the waterway, through which at least $3 trillion in trade passes each year.

"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 Chinese side is very displeased and will make solemn representations to the USA", the ministry said in a statement.

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He said there was a limit to Vietnam's approach because of the uncertainty of the Trump administration's Asia-Pacific policy and its lack of interest in challenging China on the maritime front. It added that United States moves "to pick quarrels and make troubles under the banner of "freedom of navigation" endangered lives and harmed regional stability.

Such operations, Nauert said, get the "most attention" when they occur in the South China Sea. They do that on a daily basis, including the South China Sea.

"We told them we are a U.S. (ship) conducting routine operations in global waters", the official added. Nicole Schwegman said all Navy operations "are conducted in accordance with global law and demonstrate that the United States will fly, sail, and operate wherever worldwide law allows".

The report came after the Asean's top diplomats released a joint communiqué on August 6, expressing concerns of some foreign ministers over land reclamations in the South China Sea.

Although the final joint communique decried militarization in the South China Sea, it neither mentioned Manila's arbitration win nor called for a legally binding code of conduct in the disputed waters.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi warned against "outside interference" in the negotiations, and claimed China had finished land reclamation on islands two years ago.

North Island of the Paracel Islands, November 11, 2016. The Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Taiwan and Brunei also have overlapping claims.

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