MOSCOW (Sputnik) — On Thursday, the USS John S. McCain sailed within 12 nautical miles of the man-made Mischief Reef in the Spratly archipelago in the South China Sea, during a "freedom of navigation exercise" in the disputed region. The Chinese Defense Ministry in response urged the United States to immediately cease all provocative activities in the South China Sea, as they impede bilateral relations and mutual trust between the armed forces of the two countries.
"We are not the spokesman for the Chinese. On the other hand, in the words of [Philippine Defense] Secretary Lorenzana, the Philippines has no objection regarding presumed innocent passage of sea craft and that there is, in other words, freedom of navigation," Abella said at the press briefing.
The Asia-Pacific region faces several territorial disputes in South China and East China seas, involving China, Japan, Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan. China considers the Spratly archipelago as its territory, despite the Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration decision that Beijing had no reasons for territorial claims in the South China Sea. The arbitration proceeding was initiated by the Philippines in January 2013.