China says US warship’s islands passage ‘illegal’
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