February 18, 2018

United States warship sails close to South China Sea island, China 'displeased'

12 August 2017, 02:33 | Taylor George

US destroyer challenges China's claims in South China Sea

US warship sails close to China-held island in disputed sea

In recent years China has built up Mischief and other disputed land features in the Spratly Island chain into forward bases, complete with military runways, fortified hangars and air defense installations.

Increasing activity by China's rapidly modernizing military has boosted tension in East Asia since the start of the year, as North Korea persists with ballistic missile and nuclear bomb tests that have stoked fears in Japan, the United States and elsewhere.

According to a USA defense official, the US destroyer was planning to sail within 6 nautical miles of Mischief Reef, one of Beijing's man-made islands. The operation on Thursday punctuated that stance.

"China is very displeased with this and will bring up the issue with the U.S. side", the statement reads.

Vietnam has competing claims over the Spratly Islands and was reportedly recently threatened by China to stop oil drilling.

An analysis by Washington's Centre for Strategic and International Studies found the volume of global shipping transiting through the South China Sea was less than previously thought, and put the real figure at $US3.3 trillion ($4.2 trillion).

Responding to the so-called incursion, China's foreign ministry said it "severely harmed China's sovereignty and security".

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The island was first populated about 4,000 years ago by the ancestors of the Chamorros , still the island's largest ethnic group. The forum members also urged North Korea to comply with obligations stated in the United Nations Security Council resolutions.

But AMTI in its report branded that statement as false, noting China's supposed construction works particularly at Tree Island at the Paracel group.

DFA spokesman Robespierre Bolivar stressed ASEAN did not ignore China's continued reclamation activities in the South China Sea.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry issued a similar statement.

Cayetano said he wanted to remove the word "reclamation" in the joint communique because he claimed that it does not reflect the current situation in the disputed sea. "Hindi naman nila sinabi na ititigil ang pag-i-improve sa pag-reclaim tulad ng Subi Reef Mischief Reef at isa pa, we will leave it at that, hindi naman natin sila mautusan na tigilan nila", Lorenzana said.

On Thursday, State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert was asked at a briefing whether "freedom of navigation" and other issues serve to "make for a more hard campaign on North Korea with China".

"They called and said 'Please turn around, you are in our waters, '" the newspaper's source said.

At a time when China and Southeast Asian countries have agreed to solve and manage the South China Sea issue through bilateral talks and to avoid influence by nonregional forces, the USA behavior shows that Washington wants to maintain its presence in the region, instead of solving the issue, Zhou said.

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