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China protests US ship near South China Sea island

China protests US ship near South China Sea island
From Al Jazeera - August 10, 2017

China has voiced discontent with the United States after an American warship sailed near an artificial island in the disputed South China Sea.

The USS John S McCain sailed within six nautical miles of Mischief Reef in the Spratly Islands on Thursday as part of a "freedom of navigation" operation, which prompted the Chinese navy to warn off the US destroyer.

Foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said on Friday the operation had violated Chinese and international law, "seriously" impairing the country's sovereignty and security as well as "endangering lives".

OPINION: China's aggressive posture in South China Sea

"China is strongly dissatisfied with this," Geng said in a statement, adding Beijing would lodge an official protest with Washington.

Nicole Schwegman, spokeswoman for the US Pacific Fleet, said US military forces operate in the Asia Pacific region on a daily basis.

"All operations are conducted in accordance with international law and demonstrate that the United States will fly, sail, and operate wherever international law allows," she said.

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

"They called and said 'please turn around, you are in our waters'," the official said. "We told them we are a US [ship] conducting routine operations in international waters."

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

'Threatening peace'

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