China protests to United States over sail-by in disputed waters

US Navy Destroyer Sails Near Islands Claimed by China in South China Sea

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.

She said the US military ship's conduct violated Chinese and relevant worldwide laws, seriously damaged China's sovereignty and security interests, and put the lives of people at the frontline at risk.

China regards a major part of the sea as its territory though there are contesting claims by four other countries, including Vietnam and the Philippines.

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 United States warship from Paracel Islands' territorial waters. Tensions flared in 2014 when China installed exploratory oil rigs in the vicinity.

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China claims nearly all of the South China Sea, and has heavily militarized some islands in the region and expanded other territories with major land reclamation work, turning sandbars into islands and equipping them with airfields, ports and weapons systems. China has carried out extensive land reclamation work on numerous islands and reefs it claims, equipping some with air strips and military installations. "We urge the U.S. to respect Chinese sovereignty and security interests".

The United States does not recognize China's sovereignty claim over the islands and sees it as an effort to limit freedom of navigation.

Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying denounced the mission as unsafe and a violation of China's sovereignty.

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