USA warship sails near South China Sea, Beijing denounces Washington's move

USA warship sails near South China Sea, Beijing denounces Washington's move

Vietnam, China, and Taiwan all have overlapping claims in Paracel Islands.

China immediately dispatched military vessels and aircraft for identification and warned the United States ship to leave, Hua said.

China's Defense Ministry said Wednesday that it sent a warship, two fighter jets and a helicopter to warn the USA destroyer away, calling the move a "provocation".

China would further strengthen its naval and air defenses, the ministry said.

"It is a critical stage for the development of the relationship between Chinese and American armies, and we demand the USA side earnestly take steps to correct its mistakes", the ministry said.

Turning to the North Korean nuclear threat, Noh said, "Bilateral cooperation is more important than ever under the shared view that North Korea's nuclear weapons and missiles pose obstacles to achieving peace in northeast Asia and the national interests of South Korea and China".

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"China will continue to take resolute measures to protect Chinese sovereign territory and maritime interests".

The officials, who asked to remain anonymous, claimed that the USS Chafee, an Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer, "challenged excessive maritime claims" near the Paracel Islands by sailing close to, but not within, the 12-nautical-mile limit of the islands.

Experts and some US officials have criticized former president Barack Obama for potentially reinforcing China's claims by sticking to innocent passage, in which a warship effectively recognized a territorial sea by crossing it speedily without stopping.

A US Navy destroyer conducted a "freedom of navigation" operation near the disputed Paracel Islands in the South China Sea on Tuesday, two defense officials told CNN. Beijing accuses the United States of violating its sovereignty, while Washington claims the missions support "freedom of navigation" in the region.

USA ships have repeatedly sailed past the disputed islets in the South China Sea, triggering an angry reaction from China.