USA destroyer challenges China's claims in South China Sea

Hanoi secures first visit by US carrier since Vietnam War, greater defense cooperation, as tensions build with China

His comments came amidst reports from Washington that a U.S. Navy destroyer carried out a "freedom of navigation operation" August 10, coming within 12 nautical miles of an artificial island China built in the South China Sea.

The USS John S McCain destroyer sailed within six nautical miles of Mischief Reef - an artificial island built by China - on Thursday as part of a "freedom of navigation" operation, a US official said.

"The US military's provocative actions will only encourage the Chinese military to further strengthen the defense capacity building and firmly defend national sovereignty and security", Qian said.

Asked to comment on the challenges PLAN faces in the South China Sea, in particular those posed by the U.S. Navy, commanding officer of Yulin Captain Hu Luyang said it was fine for the American Navy to patrol the area in the worldwide waters.

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"China is resolutely opposed to this kind of show of force and pushing of regional militarization by the US that may easily cause an unexpected incident at sea or in the air", China's Defense Ministry said in a statement.

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

China claims almost all of the sea, through which $5 trillion in annual shipping trade passes and which is believed to sit atop vast oil and gas deposits.

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.

Beijing is sensitive to even a veiled reference by ASEAN to its reclamation of seven reefs and its military installations in the South China Sea, which it claims in nearly its entirety despite the competing claims of five other countries.

Defending the first Chinese overseas naval base against criticism that it would amplify China's growing influence, he said it will act as a logistics centre and support anti- piracy, United Nations peacekeeping operations and humanitarian relief missions in the region.

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

China is tangled in a web of territorial disputes in the South China Sea with five other regional nations, which also include Brunei, Malaysia and the Philippines.

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".

THERE is a renewed call from the rest of the world urging China to respect the year-old decision of the Permanent Arbitration Court (PAC) and compliance with the ruling that invalidated China's vast claims to the disputed waters.

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