Beijing voiced displeasure on Friday after a US warship sailed near an artificial island in the disputed South China Sea, an operation that prompted the Chinese navy to warn off the American destroyer.
Foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said the actions of the USS John S. McCain had violated Chinese and international law, “seriously” impairing the country’s sovereignty and security.
“China is strongly dissatisfied with this,” Geng said in a statement, adding that Beijing would lodge an official protest with Washington.
The USS John S. McCain destroyer sailed within six nautical miles of Mischief Reef — an artificial island built by China — on Thursday as part of a “freedom of navigation” operation, a US official said.
The reef is part of the disputed Spratly Islands in the South China Sea, which is the scene of rival claims between China and neighbouring countries.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, the US official told AFP 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.”