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Published: Sat, August 12, 2017
Culture | By Antonia Gonzales

United States destroyer challenges China's claims in South China Sea

United States destroyer challenges China's claims in South China Sea

President Trump has been calling on China to do more to rein in North Korea's nuclear and ballistic missile programs, but with little success.

On Thursday, Beijing sent two Chinese warships to warn the U.S.S. John McCain to leave while conducting a Freedom of Navigation operation.

China has built seven man-made islets in the South China Sea's hotly contested Spratly chain, with three boasting military-grade airfields - including Mischief Reef - despite a 2015 vow by Chinese President Xi Jinping not to further "militarize" them.

The show of United States force came as the Trump administration upped the pressure on China to bring Pyongyang to heel, just hours after North Korea threatened to target a USA military base on the Pacific island of Guam.

Tensions on the Korean Peninsula have risen recently after North Korea carried out two nuclear tests previous year and two ICBM tests last month, prompting a strong round of United Nations sanctions.

Chinese defence ministry spokesman Wu Qian said the situation in the South China Sea has "stabilised" because of "joint efforts" of China and neighbouring countries, but the U.S. operation threatened "peace and stability in the region".

On Tuesday, President Donald Trump said threats against the US from North Korea would be met with "fire and fury like the world has never seen." .

Cayetano admitted that the Philippines was among the countries that did not want to include criticism on China's land reclamation and militarisation in the Spratlys in the joint communiqué issued by Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) foreign ministers after their meeting in Manila earlier this week.

AMTI said China continued to reclaim in the Paracel Islands.

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

This is the third time that the US Navy has conducted a "freedom of navigation operation" or "fonop" under the Donald Trump presidency.

The photos, with August 5, 2017 being the most recent release, showed infrastructure and land reclamation in the Tree Island and the North Island.

"Vietnam is unlikely to take a role as active as Aquino", Xue said, referring to former Philippine president Benigno Aquino who took the South China Sea case to an worldwide tribunal.

"They called and said 'Please turn around, you are in our waters, '" he said.

An analysis by Washington's Centre for Strategic and International Studies found the volume of global shipping transiting through the South China Sea was less than previously thought, and put the real figure at $US3.3 trillion ($4.2 trillion).

"We told them we are a usa (ship) conducting routine operations in worldwide waters", the official added.

Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano supported China's claim after the summit was over.

Although China opposes inclusion of the sea disputes in global conferences, partly to prevent the U.S. and other Western governments from intervening, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop and Japan's new top diplomat, Taro Kono, expressed concern over aggressive actions in the waters.

The Joint Communiqué reflects the consensus of the ministers on issues concerning ASEAN, wherein Vietnam and the Philippines are member states.

"About 45 islands are occupied by relatively small numbers of military forces from China, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam. Brunei claims an exclusive economic zone over this area", the CIA Factbook says.

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