China voices strong protest against United States warship sails in South China Sea

Faith Castro
August 11, 2017

Beijing and ASEAN Foreign Ministers have recently adopted a framework of the Code of Conduct in the South China Sea.

The official told The Associated Press that Chinese vessels were in the vicinity when the USS John S. McCain sailed in a "routine" freedom of navigation operation near Mischief Reef Thursday.

"If China helps us, I feel a lot differently toward trade", he said.

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.

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

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.

Mischief Reef is controlled by China but also claimed by the Philippines, Vietnam and Taiwan.

Since October 2015, under the Obama Administration, US ships have been patrolling near the artificial islands built by China in the South China Sea to demonstrate that they are located in global waters, not in Chinese waters - therefore angering Beijing.

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Now it seems China's patience with the territorial row is running out.

Territorial waters are defined by the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea as extending no more than 12 nautical miles from a state's coastline.

Tensions escalated a few years ago when China began to build seven reefs, including Mischief, into islands, including three with runways, which the US and China's neighbors fear could be used to project Beijing's military might and potentially obstruct freedom of navigation.

Geng said, "China has the firm determination to safeguard its territorial sovereignty and maritime interests".

Pentagon spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Chris Logan declined to comment on whether there had been a freedom of navigation sailing but he said the United States would continue to do such operations.

"All operations are conducted in accordance with worldwide law and demonstrate that the United States will fly, sail, and operate wherever global law allows", she said.

In this regard, Geng remarked that China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) country members are focusing on strengthening cooperation to further the comprehensive and effective implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea and jointly develop regional standards.

But China scoffed at the United States, calling the move a "provocation" that could seriously damage the two countries' strategic trust and also create difficulties and obstacles for their defence forces, Reuters reported.

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