China protests USA ship near South China Sea island

Secretary of Foreign Affairs of Philippines Alan Peter Cayetano makes opening the speech of the 50th Association of Southeast Asian Nations Foreign Ministers Meeting in Manila Philippines

China said it was "very displeased" after a U.S. Navy destroyer conducted a so-called freedom of navigation patrol (FONOP) within 12 nautical miles (22 km) of an artificial island built up by China in the South China Sea.

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. "And that there is this freedom of navigation", he said.

It said both Beijing and Hanoi have undertaken dredging and reclamation work as recently as early 2017, but "neither approaches the scale of what China did from late 2013 to mid-2015, but any such work is environmentally destructive, undermines regional stability, and warrants mention in diplomatic statements".

The freedom of navigation operation was the third that the United States has carried out since President Donald Trump took office in January.

Meanwhile, the Chinese Defense Ministry responds to a U.S. Navy operation in the South China Sea.

Beijing claims nearly the entirety of the South China Sea, has deployed naval units and has reclaimed land from the sea to expand its presence, sparking protests from its neighbours.

Tensions in the region escalated after China began to turn seven reefs in the Spratly group, including Mischief, which is also claimed by USA defense treaty ally the Philippines, into islands, including three with runways. The military has even deployed surface-to-air missiles.

The operations, according to anonymous officials, were meant to challenge China's claim on trade routes now contested by Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan, and Vietnam.

Geng reiterated the Chinese government's willingness to safeguard national sovereignty and its maritime rights and interests.

On Thursday, State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert was asked at a briefing whether "freedom of navigation" and other issues serve to "make for a more hard campaign on North Korea with China".

"They called and said 'Please turn around, you are in our waters, '" the newspaper's source said. "All operations are conducted in accordance with worldwide law and demonstrate that the United States will fly, sail, and operate wherever global law allows".

'We express dissatisfaction and firm opposition to the Japan´s 2017 Defense White Paper, which contains statements about China's naval activities in the East and South Seas.

With joint efforts of China and ASEAN members, the current situation in the South China Sea has stabilised and maintains a sound development momentum, he said, noting the recent China-ASEAN foreign ministers' meeting adopted the framework of the Code of Conduct (COC).

China's claims in the South China Sea, through which about $5 trillion in ship-borne trade passes each year are contested by Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam.

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