US Navy Destroyer Sails Near Disputed Island in South China Sea

US Navy Destroyer Sails Near Disputed Island in South China Sea

US Navy Destroyer Sails Near Disputed Island in South China Sea

Earlier in the day, the Chinese Foreign Ministry voiced a protest against the U.S. guided-missile destroyer USS Stethem's entering the waters off the disputed Paracel Islands, known in China as the Xisha Islands.

A U.S. Navy destroyer on Sunday sailed within 12 miles of a disputed island in the South China Sea that is claimed by China, a U.S. military official told CNN. Fox News first reported the operation on Sunday.

China has rapidly built reefs into artificial islands capable of hosting military planes.

The United States in fiscal year 2016 conducted freedom of navigation operations "challenging excessive maritime claims of 22 different coastal states, including claims of allies and partners", the Pentagon said.

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Fiery Cross Reef houses the most advanced Chinese military installations, according to the report.

Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said President Rodrigo Duterte has been clear to his intent to maintain "mutual understanding" with China while addressing the spat in the resource-rich waters.

The think tank said major construction on the "Big 3" - Fiery Cross, Mischief and Subi Reefs - "is wrapping up with the naval, air, radar and defensive facilities". The apparatus is created to locate and eliminate enemy divers.

It added that construction of "very large underground structures", four at each reef, is underway. A massive antennae system has also reportedly appeared, suggesting a significant expansion of the location's radar and communications capabilities.

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The islands, which the Philippines also claims, are about 230 miles southwest of the country's archipelago province of Palawan. "The islands are built and they are clearly militarised, which means they already got over the hard part".

On May 24, the USS Dewey destroyer sailed within 12 miles of Mischief Reef, one of seven manmade islands built by China in the Spratly Island Chain, located further south in the South China Sea.

"New imagery sows that while China is keeping attention focused on its negotiations with Southeast Asian countries over basic principles to manage the South China Sea disputes, its construction of military and dual-use facilities on the Spratly Islands continues", the AMTI said. The US Pacific Fleet spokesman, Lt. Cmdr.

Despite largely praising Chinese president Xi Jinping, President Trump has also mounted pressure on Beijing to do more to sway North Korea to halt its nuclear programs and attempted missile launches.

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