Recent developments surrounding the South China Sea

Recent developments surrounding the South China Sea

Recent developments surrounding the South China Sea

The ministry said the Chinese military issued warnings to guided-missile cruiser USS Antietam and the USS Higgins to leave the waters after they "arbitrarily entered" the contested Paracel Islands in the waterway "without permission of the Chinese government".

United States military vessels carried out maneuvering operations near Tree, Lincoln, Triton and Woody islands in the Paracels, one of the officials said.

The spokesman also called the U.S. move "provocative and arbitrary", which he said "undermined strategic mutual trust between the two militaries".

Last week China showed off the completion of an airstrip by flying bombers and other planes to the island base.

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Washington has slammed China over the moves, and been carrying out "freedom of navigation" patrols in defiance of Beijing.

The US military did not immediately comment on the operation, but said US forces operate in the region on a daily basis, Reuters said.

These operations "are not about one country", he said, "nor are they about making political statements".

"We conduct routine and regular Freedom of Navigation Operations (FONOPs), as we have done in the past and will continue to do in the future", U.S. Pacific Fleet said in a statement.

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China was invited to join the RIMPAC, which the Pentagon is the biggest military exercise in the world, under the Obama administration as a way to boost relations with Beijing and encourage the country to stop the militarization of a group of disputed islands in the South China Sea.

China's foreign minister said China had a right to take whatever measures it deemed fit on its island holdings, and the defence ministry criticized the USA move as "unconstructive", saying it would do nothing to change China's resolve to "play a role in maintaining peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region".

The operation is the first known FONOP to involve two U.S. Navy warships.

Chiefs from the Pentagon have continuously accused China of building up it military power in the South China Sea to gain control of oil and gas rich region.

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China's military, he said, would be "firm and unwavering in its determination to strengthen sea and air operational preparedness construction" on the islands.

"China's continued militarization of disputed features in the South China Sea only serve to raise tensions and destabilize the region", a Pentagon spokesman, Marine Lt. Col. Christopher Logan, said.

The United States has said it would like to see more global participation in freedom-of-navigation operations in the South China Sea.

State-run news agency Xinhua said the two vessels were "expelled" from the waters.

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