China protests at United States warship's violation

US Navy Destroyer Sails Near Islands Claimed by China in South China Sea

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.

A USA official said the destroyer USS Chafee sailed near the Paracel Islands on Tuesday, coming within 16 nautical miles of land.

Speaking earlier at a daily news briefing in Beijing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said China had lodged "stern representations" with the United States, and reiterated that the Paracels were Chinese territory. The Paracel archipelago is claimed by China, Taiwan and Vietnam, while the Spratly Islands are additionally contested by the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei.

The Chinese spokesperson said the U.S. warship violated Chinese and global laws and seriously threatened China's sovereignty and security.

Top US and Chinese military commanders signed a deal in August to improve communications between the two forces amid ongoing disputes in the South and East China seas - a move meant to reduce the chances of "miscalculation".

The Chinese Defense Ministry denounced the operation as a "provocation" and said it was "firmly opposed to such flaunting of force and promotion of militarization in the region by the USA, which could easily trigger accidents at sea and in the air".

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

This comes after US President Donald Trump's requested China's cooperation in addressing North Korea's missile and nuclear programs during his UN speech during the General Assembly of the United Nations in September. China is North Korea's neighbor and biggest trading partner. "China is firmly opposed to that and has lodged stern representations with the U.S.".

Twelve nautical miles mark internationally recognized territorial limits.

At a ceremony at the South Korean Embassy, Roh said he will explain to Beijing officials that Seoul's THAAD deployment is purely for defensive purposes against North Korea's nuclear and missile threats and is not aimed at China.

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