China still building islands in disputed South China Sea: security think tank

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A US Navy destroyer came within twelve nautical miles of an artificial island built by China in the South China Sea, Reuters reported even as tensions between US and North Korea continued to grab world headlines.

"The Chinese military is 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".

The mission comes as the United States seeks China's cooperation on resolving the tension over North Korea's missile tests, which is perceived in Washington as a serious threat to the U.S. and its regional allies.

The statement Friday does not mention any specific actions China would be willing to take, although some Chinese scholars and state media have called on Beijing to take on a shuttle diplomacy role to facilitate talks between the USA and North Korea.

At the closing ceremony last Monday, President Duterte called for the swift conclusion of an agreement to set up a free trade bloc that groups together the ten ASEAN nations with China, India, Japan, South Korea, Australia, and New Zealand.

According to the Chinese Foreign Ministry, the U.S. actions violated Chinese law, as well as worldwide law and constituted a serious political and military provocation.

China has indisputable sovereignty over the Nansha Islands and their adjacent waters, Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang reiterated on Thursday.

A spokesman said: "The US destroyer's actions have violated Chinese and global laws, as well as severely harmed China's sovereignty and security".

And with China putting pressure on Singapore to downplay the South China Sea issue, Storey said the city state would have its work cut out trying to keep everyone happy.

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China has recently installed rocket launchers on a disputed island in the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea in order to fend off Vietnam's claims, according to a report.

"As you all know, USA forces will operate in the Asia-Pacific region".

Construction is shown on Mischief Reef, in the Spratly Islands, on June 19, 2017.

"China has been unswervingly determined to safeguard its territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests and uphold peace and stability in the South China Sea".

China, which claims the South China Sea virtually in entirety, has protested such repeated USA military operations, which President Donald Trump's administration has continued partly to reassure allies locked in territorial rifts with Beijing.

The US official said the interactions were all "safe and professional", with the operation of the USS McCain lasting about six hours from start to finish.

Party bosses in Beijing lay claim to huge swathes of the disputed South China Sea. Yet China apparently still claims the nine-dash line or exclusive economic zones (EEZs) from the Spratly features it occupies and has threatened to use force to back its claim.

China has refused to recognise a ruling by The Hague in 2016 that its historic "nine-dash line" claim to sovereignty over numerous islands is invalid, and is trying to reach its own settlement with rival claimants.

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