USA sends McCain's namesake to challenge Chinese maritime claims

Emmett Rice
August 12, 2017

A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman said in a statement that the USS John S. McCain had violated Chinese and global law, undermined Chinese sovereignty and security, and endangered the safety of frontline personnel.

The Foreign Ministry pointed out that that the so-called U.S. "freedom of navigation" mission was carried out without authorization from Beijing, with has "indisputable sovereignty over the Nansha Islands (Spratley) and its surrounding waters". China has used dredged sand to expand the original reef into an artificial island big enough to hold an airstrip. Sailing within those 12 miles is meant to show that the United States does not recognize territorial claims there.

The US supports neither nation's claims and insists that the sea should be a neutral space available for free navigation.

"The South China Sea doesn't only include the Spratly Islands, and for Vietnam, developments on the disputed Paracels are just as destabilizing", AMTI said.

"That is true in the South China Sea as in other places around the globe".

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

The reef is some 150 miles from Palawan, the nearest major Philippine island, and more than 650 miles southeast of Hainan, a Chinese island-province that reaches into the South China Sea.

China's Foreign Ministry has once again protests the United States naval visits in what it claims are its own territorial waters.

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Japan's Defense White Paper reads that Beijing has been trying to change the status quo in the East and South China Seas based on its own claims, and this has become a common concern for the region and the whole world.

He added that the Chinese navy identified the United States warship, issued a warning and finally expelled it from the area, without giving further details.

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.

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.

According to Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative, Beijing continues to reclaim in the Paracel Islands, the most recent examples are at Tree Island and North Island.

"And the point of that is to demonstrate that the United States will continue to fly, sail and operate wherever worldwide law allows".

Mischief Reef is controlled by China but also claimed by the Philippines, Vietnam and Taiwan. "The operations are conducted in accordance with global law", she said.

However, on Friday, China's Foreign Ministry protested against the voyage of the U.S. naval vessel in what it keeps claiming are Chinese territorial waters.

Other reports by Free-Prsite

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