A US Navy guided-missile destroyer sailed close to China’s man-made islands in the disputed South China Sea, drawing an angry rebuke from Beijing, which said its warships tracked and warned the American vessel, reports Reuters.
China summoned the American ambassador to protest the U.S. Navy's sailing of a warship close to one of China's artificial islands, in an act that challenged Chinese sovereignty claims.
According to a report in AP, the Executive Vice Minister Zhang Yesui said that the U.S. had acted in defiance of repeated Chinese objections and had threatened China's sovereignty and security.
While offering no details, Zhang said the "provocative" manoeuvr also placed personnel and infrastructure on the island in jeopardy.
A Chinese guided-missile destroyer and a naval patrol ship shadowed and gave warnings to the US warship “according to law”.
The US patrol was a “coercive action that seeks to militarise the South China Sea region” and an “abuse” of freedom of navigation under international law, it added.
The USS Lassen‘s patrol on Tuesday was the most significant US challenge yet to the 12-nautical-mile territorial limits China claims around artificial islands it has built in the Spratly archipelago.
Washington’s move followed months of deliberation by President Barack Obama’s administration and could ratchet up tension in one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes and increase strains in U.S.-China relations.
China claims most of the South China Sea, through which more than US$5 trillion of world trade passes every year. Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, the Philippines and Taiwan have rival claims.
Each year, $5.3-trillion (U.S.) worth of trade crosses the South China Sea.