U.S. warship sails near disputed South China Sea island, officials say

French Navy Frigate Conducts FONOP in South China Sea 2

In Taipei, the Ministry of National Defense earlier this week said it shadowed a Chinese aircraft carrier group traversing the Taiwan Strait in a southwesterly direction - meaning into the South China Sea - in what it judged to be a drill.

In this photo, provided by the U.S. Navy, the Arleigh Burke class guided-missile destroyer USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62) is on patrol on September 8, 2014.

The latest "freedom of navigation" operation comes a day after US President Donald Trump signed a presidential memorandum that would impose a tariff of up to $60 billion on Chinese imports.

Beijing demands an end to U.S. "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". Nicole Schwegman, a U.S. Pacific Fleet spokeswoman, said in a statement. China has territorial claims to about 90 percent of the South China Sea, which has put it at odds with its neighbors. "By repeatedly sending military ships into these areas without authorization, the USA has seriously harmed Chinese sovereignty and security, violated basic rules of global relations, and harmed regional peace and stability", the spokesman said.

China's Defense Ministry has accused the U.S. of "serious political and military provocation" after the U.S. Navy conducted its first so-called freedom of navigation operation (FONOP) in the disputed South China Sea since January. "China is strongly disappointed and firmly opposes such an action", the embassy said in a statement.




"China holds indisputable sovereignty over the islands and their surrounding waters in the South China Sea", ministry spokesman Ren Guoqiang said in a statement. "(We are) firmly opposed to such flaunting of force and promotion of militarization in the region by the United States, which could easily trigger accidents at sea and in the air", it said in a statement at the time.

Combats drills are routine exercises carried out by the Chinese navy on various parts of the South China Sea, including those which are disputed. "It is not aimed at any specific country or target", the newspaper added, without elaborating.

Washington took a counter dig at Beijing over the latter's man-made islands in the South China Sea - some of which have military bases and weapons. "And what changed is the United States stopped paying attention", Michael Fuchs, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, told CNN in December.

The guided-missile destroyer, the USS Dewey sailed within 12 nautical miles of the artificial Mischief Reef in the South China Sea's Spratly Islands at the time.

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