China says US war­ship’s is­lands pas­sage ‘il­le­gal’

Daily Trust - - INTERNATIONAL -

Chi­nese of­fi­cials have con­demned a US ship’s pas­sage near dis­puted is­lands in the South China Sea as “il­le­gal” and a threat to their coun­try’s sovereignty.

The guided-mis­sile de­stroyer USS Lassen breached the 12-nau­ti­cal mile zone China claims around Subi and Mis­chief reefs in the Spratly ar­chi­pel­ago.

The US has con­firmed the op­er­a­tion took place, ap­par­ently Free­dom pro­gramme.

The op­er­a­tion is a chal­lenge to China’s claims over the ar­ti­fi­cial is­lands.

Lu Kang, a spokesman for China’s for­eign min­istry, said Bei­jing would “res­o­lutely re­spond to any coun­try’s de­lib­er­ately provoca­tive ac­tions”.

He added that the ship had been “tracked and warned” as of part of its

Nav­i­ga­tion while on the mis­sion to de­lib­er­ately en­ter the dis­puted wa­ters.

The Chi­nese for­eign min­istry sum­moned the US am­bas­sador to protest over the move.

Mean­while, US De­fence Sec­re­tary Ash Carter con­firmed that the USS Lassen had passed within 12 miles of the is­lands, dur­ing ques­tion­ing by the Se­nate Armed Forces Com­mit­tee.

Guided-mis­sile de­stroyer USS Lassen seen with a South Korean ship in a photo from March

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