Navy Destroyer in South China Sea Near Islands Beijing Claims

US Navy destroyer sails near disputed islands in South China Sea

On Tuesday, three US officials confirmed that a US Navy destroyer sailed near islands claimed by China in the South China Sea.

The destroyer, however, did not violate the 12-nautical-mile territorial limits of the islands, according to a Reuters report, citing USA military officials.

Meanwhile, in today's press briefing Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hua Chunying said the Chinese military deployed air and sea assets to verify the identification and drive away the U.S. warship from Paracel Islands' territorial waters.

The Paracel Islands have been controlled by China since 1974 but they are also claimed by Vietnam and Taiwan.

"China urges the US side to respect Chinese sovereignty and security interests as well as the efforts of regional countries to maintain the peace and stability of the South China Sea", Hua said, calling for a stop of such wrong actions.

"China urges the U.S.to conscientiously respect China's sovereign territory and security interests, conscientiously respect the efforts regional countries have made to protect peace and stability in the South China Sea, and stop these wrong actions".

The Chinese Defense Ministry denounced the operation as a "provocation" and said it was "firmly opposed to such flaunting of force and promotion of militarization in the region by the United States, which could easily trigger accidents at sea and in the air".

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United States ships have repeatedly sailed past the disputed islets in the South China Sea, triggering an angry reaction from China. China is North Korea's neighbor and biggest trading partner.

China's Foreign Ministry has also urged the USA to "respect the sovereignty and security" of the country and stop such "erroneous acts".

That agreement was signed after a USA destroyer sailed near a man-made island constructed by China as part of another "freedom of navigation" operation meant to challenge Beijing's territorial claims.

Trump's trip to Asia will likely be dominated by the North Korean nuclear threat.

According to the data compiled by the Ministry of Health and Welfare, the number of Chinese people arriving South Korea for medical purposes declined 24.7 percent on-year during the January-June period.

In recent weeks, North Korea has launched two missiles over Japan and conducted its sixth nuclear test, all in defiance of U.N. Security Council resolutions, and may be fast advancing toward its goal of developing a nuclear-tipped missile capable of hitting the US mainland.

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