US Navy challenges China's claims in disputed territory

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But the United States has snubbed that claim by sailing ships through the huge waterway.

The CSIS report said 64 per cent of China's maritime trade passed through the sea, compared to 14 per cent of U.S. maritime trade.

He told the South Korean authorities that he was swept away in tidal currents when digging for shellfish in the sea off Ryongyon County in South Hwanghae Province. China's Global Times newspaper labelled Australia, Japan and the USA "a little bit bad" after their statement.

But the issue that arguably affects Asean the most is the series of disputes over the South China Sea, and the grouping did well to achieve a consensus agreement on a joint communique calling for non-militarisation and self-restraint in the area.

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) defended the statement of Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano that China has stopped its South China Sea reclamation activities in 2015, a claim refuted by a US-based think tank. This is partly because not all 10 members are claimants to the South China Sea.

The so-called "freedom of navigation" mission involved the Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer sailing within the 12-mile range of an artificial island reclaimed by China, Reuters reported, citing United States officials, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer undertook the "freedom of navigation" mission to challenge China's claim to the territory.

The U.S.is not involved in the long-seething disputes in the busy and potentially oil- and gas-rich waters involving China, Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam. "China's air force can not simply guard on land and not go out", Ma said in a report broadcast by Hong Kong-based Phoenix Television, which was posted on the air force's official microblog late the same day.

North Korea's President Kim Jong Un's government responded by saying that any offensive move by the USA would result in a strike on Guam.

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

Speaking on condition of anonymity, a U.S. official told AFP news agency a Chinese frigate sent radio warnings at least 10 times to the USS McCain.

"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. "We told them we are a USA [ship] conducting routine operations in global waters".

The official said the interactions were all "safe and professional", with the operation lasting about six hours.

In turn, the Chinese Defense Ministry urged Washington to stop "provocations" in the South China Sea.

He also insisted that such operations "seriously endanger lives".

Beijing protested on Friday, the official Xinhua news agency reported. Whatever happens between the US and North Korea in the current crisis, the Asia-Pacific will continue to constitute the locus of global hegemonic struggles in the long run.

While in Manila for ASEAN's Foreign Ministers' Meet last weekend, the American, Australian and Japanese foreign ministers called for a complete stoppage to land reclamation and building of military installations in the South China Sea and compliance with the PAC arbitration ruling which declared illegal China's vast ownership claims to the disputed waters.

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