01:03 GMT19 May 2021
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    Beijing has condemned "provocative" actions by Washington after a US destroyer sailed near the disputed Paracel islands in the South China Sea, saying it will beef up its defense to respond to new challenges.

    BEIJING (Sputnik) —  The USS Chafee, an Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer, entered waters near the islands on Tuesday without the permission of Chinese authorities, in order to carry out a so-called freedom of navigation operation. The Chinese side sent warships and aircraft to the area and urged the destroyer to leave the territory.

    "The Chinese Defense Ministry is against repeating provocative actions of the US military… [and] determined to subsequently increase its defense capabilities, and resolutely defend national sovereignty and security interests," the statement read.

    According to the statement, the current relations between the Chinese and US armed forces are "at an important stage of development."

    "We call on the United States to take necessary measures to correct mistakes in order to give a positive impetus to further development of relations between the two countries," the statement noted.

    The Paracel islands have been under China's control since 1974, but are at the same time claimed by both Taiwan and Vietnam.

    China claims nearly all the South China Sea, through which around $3 trillion in international trade pass annually, the vast majority of it coming or going from China. Apart from China, Taiwan and Vietnam, the Philippines, Brunei and Malaysia have claims in the waterway.  


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