PH backs US Navy presence in disputed maritime area

PH backs US Navy presence in disputed maritime area

China's Foreign Ministry Spokesman Geng Shuang said the actions of the USS John S. McCain had violated Chinese and worldwide law, "seriously" impairing the country's sovereignty and security.

United States officials earlier told Reuters the USS John S. McCain had traveled close to Mischief Reef in the Spratly Islands, among a string of islets, reefs and shoals, an area where China has territorial disputes with its neighbors.

China's foreign ministry said the operation had violated global and Chinese law and seriously harmed Beijing's sovereignty and security.

An angry Beijing warned off a United States warship after it sailed near an artificial island in the disputed South China Sea in the latest operation aimed at loosening the Asian giant's grip on the strategic waterway.

The disputes and North Korea's recent intercontinental ballistic missile tests were high on the agenda of an annual gathering of Asia-Pacific foreign ministers last weekend in Manila.

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

It claims as its border in the South China Sea the so called Nine-Dash Line (also referred to as the Ten-Dash Line or the Eleven-Dash Line), a demarcation line, with the claimed territories including the Paracel Islands, the Spratly Islands, the Scarborough Shoal, the Pratas Islands, and the Macclesfield Bank, among others.

The defense ministers agreed on a visit by a US aircraft carrier to Vietnam next year - the first such visit since the Vietnam War ended in 1975.

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China's "nine-dash line" - its claimed territorial waters that extend hundreds of miles to the south and east of its island province of Hainan - abut its neighbors' claims and, in some cases, encroach upon them.

The SSF is also responsible for keeping an eye on the resource-rich South China Sea where China is having maritime disputes with countries like the Philippines and Vietnam.

A scheduled meeting between Chinese and Vietnamese foreign ministers on the sidelines of the summit was canceled.

"And the point of that is to demonstrate that the United States will continue to fly, sail and operate wherever worldwide law allows".

Beijing is sensitive to even a veiled reference by ASEAN to its reclamation of seven reefs and its military installations in the South China Sea, which it claims in nearly its entirety despite the competing claims of five other countries.

China scolded the United States after the USS John S. McCain sailed near disputed reefs in the South China Sea on Thursday.

"They happen off the coast of Canada" and "in the waters off shore of our major allies, friends, partners all around the world", she said.

China, which claims virtually the entire South China Sea, routinely protests such operations.

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