China’s Defence Ministry said the United States had seriously offened the country’s sovereignty and security after a U.S. Navy destroyer carried out a “freedom of navigation”, coming within 12 nautical miles of an artificial island built by China in the South China Sea, the Mischief Reef in the Spratly Islands, and carried out maneuvering operations.
The operation, which infuriated Beijing, was the latest attempt to counter what Washington sees as China’s efforts to limit freedom of navigation in the strategic waters. When asked about the operation, the U.S. military said its activities are carried out under international law and American forces operate in the region on a daily bases.
China’s Defense Ministry said two Chinese naval ships had been sent to identify the U.S. ship and warn it to leave. It described the actions of the American ship as seriously harming China’s sovereignty and security, which threatens regional peace and stability. China has always dedicated itself to protecting freedom of navigation and overflight in the South China Sea, but opposes “illegal and provocative” moves in the name of freedom of navigation, it added.