13:21 GMT30 May 2020
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    Beijing insists that the repeated dispatch of US warships to the South China Sea is "undermining regional peace and stability" and hurting bilateral relations.

    China has lodged a protest with the United States after an American destroyer USS Mustin sailed near disputed islands in the South China Sea. 

    Beijing demands an end to US “provocations actions which violate the sovereignty of the People’s Republic and pose a serious threat to its security, a Foreign Ministry spokeswoman said in Beijing. 

    Briefing reporters on Friday, ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying called on Washington to respect regional countries’ efforts aimed at securing peace and stability in the South China Sea. 

    F-35B Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter
    © REUTERS / US Marine Corps/Lance Cpl. Remington Hall/Handout
    According to a Reuters report, the US Navy destroyer Mustin carried out a “freedom of navigation” operation on Friday, coming within 12 nautical miles of an artificial island built by China in the South China Sea. US officials, who were speaking on condition of anonymity, said the destroyer traveled close to Mischief Reef in the Spratly Islands and carried out maneuvering operations. 

    China dispatched military vessels to the area and warned the US ship to leave.  

    The Chinese Defense Ministry earlier condemned Washington’s action as “a serious political and military provocation” which is seriously harming China’s sovereignty and security and threatens regional peace and stability.” The past few years have seen a number of similar incidents with US Navy destroyers patrolling waters off the Spratley Islands, which China considers its own. 

    READ MORE: Chinese Navy to Hold Military Drills in South China Sea — Reports

    The South China Sea, a strategically and economically key maritime region, is disputed between numerous countries in the region. Beijing has been pushing its claim on the area by constructing artificial islands around the disputed Spratly Island chain.

    The US has been further escalating the situation by conducting patrolling and performing drills with its allies in the region. Washington claims that its actions are to ensure freedom of navigation, while Beijing calls the move a violation of its territorial sovereignty.


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