China protests USA ship sailing by island in South China Sea

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Washington-based think tank Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative of the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (Amti-CSIS) on Thursday disproved the claims of Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Philippine Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano that China is no longer doing reclamation work on any of the disputed islands in the South China Sea.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang said the USS Naval ship John S. McCain illegally entered the waters near the Meiji Reef Islands without permission of the Chinese government.

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In its Defence White Paper approved by the Cabinet on Tuesday, Japan claimed that "China tried to change the status quo in East China Sea and South China Sea based on its own assertions, and this has become a common concern of the region and the world at large".

However, the USA officials said that the USS John S. McCain sailed past an island in the disputed Spratly chain in the South China Sea, which is the third mission under the Trump administration.

China claims nearly all of the South China Sea and is now building multiple artificial islands in the area to control them as more than half of the world's annual cargo fleet passes through it.

"Sinabi nila na walang additional reclamation, wala na silang pupuntahang reefs and shoals na ire-reclaim nila at gagawin nilang island". The Chinese Foreign Ministry issued a similar statement.

It added that U.S. moves "to pick quarrels and make troubles under the banner of "freedom of navigation" endangered lives and harmed regional stability.

Geng said, "China has the firm determination to safeguard its territorial sovereignty and maritime interests".

China's "nine-dash line" - its claimed territorial waters that extend hundreds of miles to the south and east of its island province of Hainan - abut its neighbors' claims and, in some cases, encroach upon them.

The US has criticized China's construction of islands and build-up of military facilities in the disputed territories and was concerned it could be used to restrict free nautical movement.

"US military provocation will only encourage the Chinese military to further strengthen its defence capacity building and firmly defend national sovereignty", a defence statement read.

Tokyo's ties with Beijing have always been plagued by a territorial dispute over a group of tiny, uninhabited East China Sea islets and the legacy of Japan's wartime aggression.

An global tribunal refuted China's claim to a large swathe of the South China Sea in 2016 in a case brought by the Philippines, though Beijing has rejected the ruling.

Its sweeping claims overlap with Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei - all ASEAN members - as well as Taiwan.