China anger over U.S. 'provocation' in South China Sea

China anger over U.S. 'provocation' in South China Sea

The US Navy sent two warships to a disputed archipelago in the South China Sea on May 28 in its latest symbolic protest against China's claims there.

The two warships, the USS Antietam, a guided-missile cruiser home-ported in Yokosuka, Kanagawa Prefecture, and the USS Higgins, a destroyer, had "arbitrarily entered China's territorial waters around the Xisha Islands without permission of the Chinese government", spokesman Wu Qian said, using the Chinese name for the Paracels.

The U.S. military vessels carried out maneuvering operations near Tree, Lincoln, Triton and Woody islands in the Paracel Islands, one of the officials said.

The move 'contravened Chinese and relevant global law, seriously infringed upon Chinese sovereignty (and) harmed strategic mutual trust between the two militaries, ' it said.

China's Defense Ministry expressed its anger, saying it had sent ships and aircraft to warn the USA warships to leave.

'China will continue to take all necessary measures to defend the country's sovereignty and security, ' it added, without elaborating.

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Washington has said it would like to see more global participation in its freedom of navigation operations in the South China Sea, through which about $5trn of ship-borne trade passes each year.

China claims nearly the entire South China Sea, a strategic waterway through which about US$3 trillion worth of sea-borne goods passes every year.

Earlier this month, sources close to the Vietnamese unit of Russia's Rosneft told Reuters that there were concerns about China's possible reaction to the drilling of a production well off the coast of Vietnam in the South China Sea that Rosneft had started days earlier.

Satellite photographs taken on May 12 showed China appeared to have deployed truck-mounted surface-to-air missiles or anti-ship cruise missiles at Woody Island.

Apart from being a critical global trade route, the South China Sea is estimated to hold around 11 billion barrels of oil and 190 trillion cubic feet of natural gas in proved and probable reserves, with conventional hydrocarbons mostly residing in undisputed territory, according to the EIA. RIMPAC is the world's largest maritime military exercise and is held bi-annually in Hawaii, usually in June and July. Recent Chinese actions on areas within the country's EEZ include the reported presence of two Chinese military planes on Panganiban or Mischief Reef, and China's unveiling of a monument to mark its construction work in Kagitingan or Fiery Cross Reef.

Chinese officials have accused Washington of viewing their country in suspicious, "Cold War" terms.

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