DFA defends Cayetano claim on China reclamation

In July, a USA warship sailed near a disputed island in the South China Sea claimed by China, Taiwan, Vietnam.

Malacañang on Friday chose to take a tactful stance on the matter of the passage of the United States destroyer USS John S. McCain close to the contested Mischief [Panganiban] Reef in the Spratly Islands west of Palawan.

Chinese defense ministry spokesman Wu Qian said the situation in the South China Sea has "stabilized" due to the "joint efforts" of China and neighbouring countries but the United States operation threatened "peace and stability in the region".

"China holds indisputable sovereignty over Nansha Islands and surrounding waters", Beijing's defense ministry said. China has called on South Korea and the U.S.to suspend large scale military exercises in return for the North halting its programs in order to facilitate talks.

"China is resolutely opposed to this kind of show of force and pushing of regional militarization by the United States that may easily cause an unexpected incident at sea or in the air", Chinese foreign ministry said in a statement.

China accused the United States of a blatant violation of its sovereignty, as well as global law after the USS John S. McCain destroyer sailed close to the disputed Spratly Islands, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

Chinese naval vessel has warned off a U.S. ship carrying out a freedom of navigation operation in the South China Sea.

Beijing claims most of the sea and has been turning reefs in the Spratlys and Paracel chains into islands, installing military aircraft and missile systems on them - an activity the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative (AMTI) said was continuing.

Washington has been critical of China's island constructions, and from time to time sends military ships and planes near disputed areas as part of so-called "freedom of navigation" operations. The huge area China claims is home to significant energy deposits and the world's busiest shipping routes, but Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan also assert sovereign rights over parts of the worldwide waterway.

China, Brunei, Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia and Taiwan have overlapping claims to the South China Sea - one of the most important trade routes in the world.

At a time when China and South-East Asian countries have agreed to solve and manage the South China Sea issue through bilateral talks and to avoid influence by non-regional forces, the U.S. behaviour shows that Washington wants to maintain its presence in the region, instead of solving the issue, Zhou said.

"China has been unswervingly determined to safeguard its territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests and uphold peace and stability in the South China Sea".

China has refused to recognise a ruling by The Hague in 2016 that its historic "nine-dash line" claim to sovereignty over numerous islands is invalid, and is trying to reach its own settlement with rival claimants. The three countries have criticised the Chinese claims, which they said pose a threat to freedom of navigation and overflight in the area, which sees about US$5 trillion (166 trillion baht) of goods pass through annually. According to the ruling, the disputed Spratly Islets are not an exceptional economic zone.

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