Published: Sat, January 20, 2018
Worldwide | By Gretchen Simon

China protests United States warship sailing near disputed Scarborough Shoal

China protests United States warship sailing near disputed Scarborough Shoal

China's Defense Ministry said in a statement that a Chinese frigate "immediately took actions to identify and verify the US ship and drove it away by warning".

Beijing dispatched a warship to see off a U.S. missile destroyer which it says has "violated" its sovereignty in the South China Sea.

In this latest clash over freedom of navigation in the disputed South China Sea, the USS "Hopper" missile destroyer sailed within 12 nautical miles of Huangyan Dao, a tiny island claimed by China, on January 17.

The U.S. military put countering China and Russian Federation at the center of a new national defense strategy unveiled on Friday.

"The United States conducts routine and regular FONOPs (Freedom of Navigation Operations), as we have done in the past and will continue to do so in the future", Navy Lt. Cmdr.

Wu Qian, spokesperson for the ministry, made the remarks Saturday in response to the actions of a USA warship Wednesday. Nicole Schwegman said Saturday.

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USA freedom of navigation operations are meant to test Chinese claims and assert the US position that the contested features lay in global waters. FONOPs are not about any one country, nor are they about making political statements.

Twelve nautical miles from land is the internationally recognized territorial limit for all nations.

Under joint efforts by China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the situation around the South China Sea is becoming more and more stable and positive, Wu said. But the intelligence community has been watching the island for years as Chinese survey teams and dredging equipment have been seen lurking around the reef.

It has also threatened China's sovereignty and security, harmed the regional peace and stability, and gone against the stable development of relations between the two countries and their militaries, he stated.

Though China claims sole custody of nearly the entire energy-rich and strategically-important South China Sea, several other nations such as Malaysia, Brunei, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam have overlapping claims.

Lucas Tomlinson is the Pentagon and State Department producer for Fox News Channel.

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