US Navy destroyer conducts operation in South China Sea

2011 the USS John S. Mc Cain destroyer sails off the coast of Vietnam

A spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, Geng Shuang, said in a statement on its website late Thursday that the passage by the John S. McCain violated Chinese and worldwide law and "did serious harm to Chinese sovereignty and security". Sailing within those 12 miles is meant to show that the United States does not recognize territorial claims there.

The US says it supports none of the nations' claims in the area and insists that the sea should be a neutral space available for free navigation.

A Chinese frigate has warned off a USA destroyer carrying out a new freedom of navigation operation in the South China Sea, which is nearly entirely claimed by China.

Vietnamese coastguard vessels also held their first joint exercises with their Japanese counterparts in June, simulating an operation to thwart illegal fishing in the South China Sea.

It's the third time the Pentagon has conducted a "freedom of navigation" challenging China's claims in the region since President Trump took office.

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

The islands are reportedly capable of hosting warplanes, mobile missile launchers and other military assets.

"The Chinese army immediately sent warships (to the area) in accordance with the law to implement the identification of the USA ship and warn it off", the spokesperson said.

The CSIS report said 64 per cent of China's maritime trade passed through the sea, compared to 14 per cent of U.S. maritime trade.

Thursday's mission comes as the USA seeks greater Chinese involvement on resolving the tension over its neighbor, North Korea's, continuing missile tests, which are perceived in Washington as a serious threat to the U.S. and its regional allies. The two most recent examples of this are at Tree Island and North Island in the Amphitrite Group.

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

The US military has a long-standing position that its operations are carried out throughout the world, including in areas claimed by allies, and they are separate from political considerations.

In a joint statement after a meeting Monday of US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and his Australian and Japanese counterparts, the three officials "expressed serious concerns over maritime disputes in the South China Sea".

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

John McCain's father and grandfather, both U.S. Navy admirals.

Pentagon spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Chris Logan declined to comment on whether there had been a freedom of navigation operation, but said: "All operations are conducted in accordance with global law and demonstrate that the United States will fly, sail and operate wherever worldwide law allows".

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