USA destroyer challenges China's claims in South China Sea

Secretary of Foreign Affairs of Philippines Alan Peter Cayetano makes opening the speech of the 50th Association of Southeast Asian Nations Foreign Ministers Meeting in Manila Philippines

The US navy destroyer, which sailed closed to the island claimed by Beijing in the South China Sea, has violated global law and endangered China's national security, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said. The operation came as President Donald Trump's administration seeks Chinese cooperation in dealing with North Korea's missile and nuclear programmes, and could complicate efforts to secure a common stance.

USA officials admitted earlier that USS John S. McCain sailed in a freedom of navigation operation within 12 nautical miles of Mischief/Panganiban Reef while a US P-3 patrol plane flew overhead.

The U.S.is not involved in the long-seething disputes in the busy and potentially oil- and gas-rich waters involving China, Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam.

Thursday's freedom of navigation operation was the third of its kind carried out by the USA since President Donald Trump took office in January.

China's Defense Ministry said two Chinese warships "jumped into action" and warned the USA ship to leave, labelling the move a "provocation" that seriously harms mutual trust.

McCain sailed near Mischief Reef, a move Beijing labeled as a "provocation" while the U.S. called it appropriate under worldwide law.

"China is very displeased with this and will bring up the issue with the USA side", the ministry said in a statement.

China's air force chief defended military manoeuvres in the Sea of Japan, saying the waters did not belong to Tokyo, after a Japanese defence review warned of increasing Chinese military activity there.

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Mischief Reef is one of the disputed features in the West Philippine Sea which falls within the Philippine exclusive economic zone and continental shelf but where China has carried out extensive land reclamation work and built an artificial island for possible military use.

China, which claims virtually the entire South China Sea, routinely protests such operations.

The United States does not recognize China's claim of sovereignty in that location and regards the area as global waters.

China's "nine-dash line" - its claimed territorial waters that extend hundreds of miles to the south and east of its island province of Hainan - abut its neighbors' claims and, in some cases, encroach upon them. A United Nations-backed tribunal ruled previous year that China's territorial claims in the sea were without legal basis.

China claims almost all of the sea, through which $5 trillion in annual shipping trade passes and which is believed to sit atop vast oil and gas deposits.

Tensions on the Korean Peninsula have risen recently after North Korea carried out two nuclear tests a year ago and two ICBM tests last month, prompting a strong round of United Nations sanctions.

Trump in turn responded by warning North Korea it would face "fire and fury" if it further threatened the United States.

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