China protests against USA warship sailing near disputed islands

John S. Mc Cain at sea

China claims almost all of the sea, through which $5 trillion in annual shipping trade passes and which is believed to sit atop vast oil and gas deposits.

USA officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the USS John S McCain travelled to within 12 nautical miles of Mischief Reef in the Spratly Islands, among a string of islets, reefs and shoals.

"Certain external forces are swimming against the current and continuing to stir up trouble under the pretext of "freedom of navigation, '" Mr. Geng said".

China expressed its "strong dissatisfaction" with the USA over the Navy's latest freedom of navigation operation in which a warship sailed past one of China's man-made islands in the strategic South China Sea.

Mr. Trump has pushed China to use its influence to compel North Korea to stop its missile tests and nuclear weapons development.

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 United States operation threatened "peace and stability in the region".

Abella fielded questions on the issue in a news briefing 3 days after Philippine Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano echoed China in saying Beijing had stopped its reclamation in the South China Sea in mid-2015, which was disputed by the AMTI photos.

On that occasion China accused America of "trespass" and deployed their military in a sabre-rattling attempt to scare the navy off.

MALACA√ĎANG said Friday that Southeast Asian bloc should tackle China's continued land reclamation and militarization activities in the disputed South China Sea, if reports are proven to be "accurate".

AMTI said China continued to reclaim in the Paracel Islands.

He said there was a limit to Vietnam's approach because of the uncertainty of the Trump administration's Asia-Pacific policy and its lack of interest in challenging China on the maritime front.

AMTI made Tree Island and North Island as examples.

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

In their joint communique issued last Sunday, the ASEAN foreign ministers emphasized non-militarization and self-restraint in the conduct of activities in the disputed South China Sea. The Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Taiwan and Brunei also have overlapping claims.

"All operations are conducted in accordance with global law and demonstrate that the United States will fly, sail, and operate wherever worldwide law allows", he said.

The "USS John S. McCain" is named after the father and grandfather of Senator John McCain, both of whom served as admirals in the US Navy.