United States destroyer sent to Chinese waters as North Korea crisis deepens

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China on Thursday voiced strong protest against a US Navy warship passing close to the Meiji Reef in the South China Sea.

The South China Sea is crucial for Chinese foreign trade, serving as a major transportation route for minerals, energy and Chinese-made goods.

McCain on Thursday entered the waters near Mishchief Reef in the Spratly Islands to carry out freedom of navigation operations in the area, reports Efe news.

"Some external forces wish to go against the tide and provoke troubles in the name of "freedom of navigation", aiming to destroy the good atmosphere".

Contrary to the statements of Cayetano and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi that Beijing has stopped reclaiming in the South China Sea, a Washington-based think tank released satellite imagery showing that Beijing did not stop its reclamation activities in mid-2015.

According to Reuters, the maneuver by the USS John S. McCain was the third in a "freedom of navigation operation" or "fonop".

The Trump administration is dependent on Beijing to rein in the belligerent North Korea and have been pressing China to exert more economic and diplomatic pressure on the Kim Jong-un regime to prevent tensions from escalating further in the Korean peninsula.

Chinese navy guided missile frigates "took immediate action to identify and verify the U.S. ship, and warned and dispelled it", the Defense Ministry said.

Two other US Navy ships approached China-claimed islands in the South China Sea in July and May.

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The U.S.is reportedly concerned that China's construction of artificial islands and build-up of military facilities in the South China Sea are meant to restrict nautical movement in the area.

He said the concerns could then be discussed in the future meetings of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) if China indeed proceeds with land reclamation and militarization.

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.

The reef is part of the disputed Spratly Islands in the South China Sea, which is the scene of rival claims between China and neighbouring countries.

China occupies 20 outposts in the chain and improvements include the addition of harbors, helipads, an airstrip, hangars and a surface-to-air missile battery, the report said.

"They called and said 'Please turn around, you are in our waters, '" he said. "We told them we are a U.S. [ship] conducting routine operations in worldwide waters".

"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.

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.

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