US ship sails near disputed island, raising China's hackles

2017-07-03 10:00
(Donald White, AFP)

(Donald White, AFP)

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Washington — A US Navy destroyer in the South China Sea sailed near a tiny island disputed by three Asian governments as part of an operation affirming the right to passage, a US defence official said on Sunday.

The Chinese government, which joins Taiwan and Vietnam in claiming Triton Island, accused the US of trespassing in its territorial waters when the USS Stethem came within 12 nautical miles of the island.

The US Pacific Fleet had no comment on China's statement or specifics about the Stethem's operations.

A US defence official, who was not authorised to speak by name and requested anonymity, said the Stethem conducted a routine "right of innocent passage" exercise on Sunday.

Such exercises are used to bolster the argument that nations cannot claim that prior notice is required before passing through territorial waters as allowed under international agreement.

In a written statement, China's foreign ministry spokesperson Lu Kang said the US action constituted "a serious political and military provocation" and that such operations "violate China's sovereignty and threaten China's security".

"The Chinese side will continue to take all necessary means to defend national sovereignty and security," the statement said.

Read more on:    us  |  south china sea  |  china

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