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Beijing Outraged as US Destroyer Approaches Disputed South China Sea Island

© AP Photo / Bullit MarquezThe U.S. Navy warship USS John McCain, an Arleigh-Burke class destroyer. File photo
The U.S. Navy warship USS John McCain, an Arleigh-Burke class destroyer. File photo - Sputnik International
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The Chinese Foreign Ministry called on the United States to respect China's sovereignty and security interests after the US guided missile destroyer John S. McCain approached a disputed island in the South China Sea.

WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — China accused the United States of a blatant violation of its sovereignty, as well as international law after the USS John S. McCain destroyer sailed close to the disputed Spratly Islands, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Thursday.

USS John S. McCain sailed near a Chinese-made island in the South China Sea in a freedom of navigation exercise in the disputed region, US media reported on Thursday.

The ship sailed within six miles of the man-made Mischief Reef in the Spratly Islands, Stars and Stripes reported citing an anonymous US Navy official.

It is the third time this year that US ships traveled within 12 nautical miles of land claimed by China, the report said. The previous approach took place less than a month ago, when the US destroyer Stethem sailed close to the disputed islands.

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The Spratly Islands, also known as the Nansha Islands, are disputed territory between China and a number of US allies, including Malaysia, Vietnam and the Philippines.

The US Navy has patrolled the area in what it calls freedom of navigation exercises, while Beijing claims the Philippines and Vietnam use Washington’s support to escalate the situation in the region.

The whole territory of the South China Sea, which is believed to be extremely rich in energy resources, is disputed. Chinese authorities claim 90 percent of the area and have repeatedly said that the country's activities in the region are China's sovereign right.

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