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United States destroyer in South China Sea violated law, harmed security

12 August 2017

A USA warship has sailed close to an artificial island created by China in the South China Sea as part of a "freedom of navigation" operation.

China's Foreign Ministry said on Thursday that the trespassing of a U.S. missile destroyer in China's territorial waters violated Chinese and global law, severely harmed Chinese sovereignty and security and seriously endangered the lives of soldiers at the front line.

It was the third "freedom of navigation operation" during Trump's presidency.

McCain sailed within 12 nautical miles of Mischief Reef, one of three Chinese man-made islands with a runway and military fortifications.

He said Chinese Navy identified the USA warship, warned and expelled it.

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It was not immediately clear if the Chinese demanded the USA destroyer leave as they have done in the past.

But Nicole Schwegman, spokeswoman for the U.S. Pacific Fleet, said that United States forces operated in the Asia Pacific region on a daily basis. US officials say the military will continue to sail, fly and operate wherever permitted by worldwide law.

China has territorial disputes with its neighbours over the area.

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

With joint efforts of China and ASEAN members, the current situation in the South China Sea has stabilised and maintains a sound development momentum, he said, noting the recent China-ASEAN foreign ministers' meeting adopted the framework of the Code of Conduct (COC). "We told them we are a usa (ship) conducting routine operations in global waters".

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The whole territory of the South China Sea, which is believed to be extremely rich in energy resources, is disputed.

Sailing within those 12 miles is meant to show that the United States does not recognize territorial claims there.

This comes as the Trump administration has called on China to do more to reign in North Korea's nuclear missile program.

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.

"The US provocation also forced the Chinese side to take measures to further enhance the national defense capability", the ministry added.

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China's foreign ministry said the operation had "violated worldwide and Chinese law and seriously harmed Beijing's sovereignty and security".