Published: Thu, October 12, 2017
World | By Melba Underwood

China scrambles fighter jets as USA destroyer sails near disputed islands

China scrambles fighter jets as USA destroyer sails near disputed islands

On Tuesday, three US officials confirmed that a US Navy destroyer sailed near islands claimed by China in the South China Sea.

The Chafee, a guided missile destroyer, entered China's territorial sea off the Xisha Islands on Tuesday and conducted a so-called "freedom of navigation" operation, without the permission of the Chinese government, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said Wednesday.

Turning to the North Korean nuclear threat, Noh said, "Bilateral cooperation is more important than ever under the shared view that North Korea's nuclear weapons and missiles pose obstacles to achieving peace in northeast Asia and the national interests of South Korea and China".

"The US vessel action violated Chinese laws and relevant global laws, undermined China's sovereignty and security interests", she said.

The disputed Paracel Islands consist of a group of islands, reefs and shoals presently controlled and occupied by the People's Republic of China but also claimed by Vietnam and Taiwan.

China claims the South China Sea and its islands virtually in their entirety.

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Expressing firm opposition to the USA move, Hua said China will continue to take resolute measures to protect its territorial sovereignty and maritime interests.

The incident with the USS "Chafee" would affect trust between the militaries of the two countries, the ministry stated, adding that further operations of such nature might trigger "unwanted incidents".

The Pentagon has said the United States would continue to carry out the freedom-of-navigation operations. China is North Korea's neighbor and biggest trading partner.

Experts and some USA officials have criticized former president Barack Obama for potentially reinforcing China's claims by sticking to innocent passage, in which a warship effectively recognized a territorial sea by crossing it speedily without stopping.

The incident comes as US officials are pressing China to use more economic and diplomatic pressure on North Korea to prevent further military escalation in the region.

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