Published: Sun, August 13, 2017
Medical | By Rita Mcdonald

PH backs US Navy presence in disputed maritime area

PH backs US Navy presence in disputed maritime area

U.S. officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the USS John S McCain travelled to within 12 nautical miles of Mischief Reef in the Spratly Islands, among a string of islets, reefs and shoals.

However, the US officials said that the USS John S. McCain sailed past an island in the disputed Spratly chain in the South China Sea, which is the third mission under the Trump administration. Firing back at criticism of China's activities, Foreign Minister Wang Yi said Monday that China had "stopped or already completed land reclamation" on its holdings in the South China Sea two years ago.

"China has the firm determination to safeguard its territorial sovereignty and maritime interests", Geng said.

The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain sailed near China's artificial islands in the South China Sea on Thursday.

Vietnam has competing claims over the Spratly Islands and was reportedly recently threatened by China to stop oil drilling.

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In a statement published on the official website of China's Ministry of National Defence, Senior Colonel Wu said the section on China in the annual Defence White Paper is full of lies and stereotypes.

Asked to comment on the challenges PLAN faces in the South China Sea, in particular those posed by the U.S. Navy, commanding officer of Yulin Captain Hu Luyang said it was fine for the American Navy to patrol the area in the worldwide waters.

Beijing is tangled in a web of territorial disputes in the areas with five regional nations - Vietnam, Taiwan, Brunei, Malaysia and the Philippines.

"The Philippines has no objection regarding the presumed innocent passage of seacraft and that there is of course the freedom of navigation", Presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said in a Palace press briefing.

Washington is accusing China of taking an aggressive stance on the issue because of its island reclamation projects.

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Although China opposes inclusion of the sea disputes in global conferences, partly to prevent the U.S. and other Western governments from intervening, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop and Japan's new top diplomat, Taro Kono, expressed concern over aggressive actions in the waters. "To this end, Beijing has undertaken substantial upgrades of its military infrastructure in the Paracels".

An worldwide tribunal refuted China's claim to a large swathe of the South China Sea in 2016 in a case brought by the Philippines, though Beijing has rejected the ruling.

Additional reporting from Reuters. Around £3.85 trillion of ship-borne trade passes through the area every year.

The Trump administration is dependent on Beijing to rein in the belligerent North Korea and have been pressing China to exert more economic and diplomatic pressure on the Kim Jong-un regime to prevent tensions from escalating further in the Korean peninsula.

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