BEIJING – China protested on Friday against a US warship passing through waters near the Spratly Islands, a disputed area in the South China Sea.
The USS John S. McCain entered on Thursday the waters near Mishchief Reef in the Spratly Islands to carry out freedom of navigation operations in the area.
“Such a move severely undermines China’s sovereignty and security, and severely endangers the safety of frontline personnel of both sides,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang said in a statement.
He added that the Chinese navy identified the US warship, issued a warning and finally expelled it from the area, without giving further details.
Geng said China “has indisputable sovereignty over the Nansha Islands (Spratlys) and their adjacent waters,” and called for a dialogue between Beijing and the governments of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations member countries to solve the maritime dispute.
“It is clear who is not willing to see stability in the South China Sea and who is the major factor pushing for militarization in the South China Sea,” the spokesperson said.
Attracted by the strategic military location and the prospect of oil, China, Taiwan, Brunei, the Philippines, Malaysia and Vietnam have all laid territorial claim to the Spratlys and have occupied several islands.
Beijing claims almost the entirety of the South China Sea has deployed naval units and has reclaimed land from the sea to expand its presence, sparking protests from its neighbors.