Two US Guided Missile Destroyers Sail By Islands Claimed By China

The Higgins guided-missile destroyer and the Antietam, a guided-missile cruiser, carried out manoeuvering operations near Tree, Lincoln, Triton and Woody islands in the Paracels, one of the officials said.

While this operation had been planned months in advance, and similar operations have become routine, it comes at a particularly sensitive time and just days after the Pentagon uninvited China from a major US -hosted naval drill.

In the Paracel Islands, U.S. freedom of navigation operations have been created to protest China's prior notification requirements for innocent passage transits with 12 nautical miles of features and Beijing's straight baselines around the island group, which are illegal under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

"US forces operate in the Asia-Pacific region on a daily basis, including in the South China Sea", Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Christopher Logan said.

The ministry said the course plotted by the vessels had "seriously infringed upon Chinese sovereignty" and "contravened Chinese and relevant global law", as they had entered territorial waters without permission.

China's military took "immediate action" on Sunday against "unauthorized" sailing by United States warships in South China Sea waters claimed by Beijing.

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Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano provided on Monday more details of what President Rodrigo Duterte's administration has been doing to defend the country's sovereignty in the disputed region amid criticism that it has been far too soft on China.

China's claims in the South China Sea, through which about $5 trillion (3.75 trillion pounds) in shipborne trade passes each year, are contested by Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam.

It added that its presence in the South China Sea - which is disputed by Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam - was legitimate, and accused the United States of holding Cold War-style suspicions.

FONOPS are regularly conducted in disputed seas throughout the world.

China's military, he said, would be "firm and unwavering in its determination to strengthen sea and air operational preparedness construction" on the islands.

Pompeo did not comment on the matter, saying only that the pair had had a "good discussion" about American concerns of militarization of the South China Sea.

(Copyright © 2015. All Rights Reserved.)
 
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