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China condemns US ‘freedom of navigation’ patrols

Muslim Times(Web Desk) – China has condemned the recent sailing of a US warship near territory that it claims in the South China Sea, insisting that it is “resolutely opposed” to what Washington calls “freedom of navigation” patrols.

“China’s military is resolutely opposed to this,” the Defense Ministry said on Tuesday, referring to the so-called freedom of navigation patrols and the latest such maneuver by the US near the Spratly Islands.

The Ministry said Chinese armed forces would continue to take all the necessary measures to protect China’s sovereignty and security.

“The US side repeatedly sends military ships without permission into seas close to South China Seas islands, seriously threatening China’s sovereignty and security, seriously damaging Sino-US military ties, and seriously harming regional peace and stability,” the ministry said.

The development came after an unnamed US official said the USS Decatur guided-missile destroyer had sailed within 12 nautical miles of Gaven and Johnson Reefs in the Spratly Islands on Sunday.

The provocative move by the US military was its latest effort to challenge what Washington regards as Beijing’s attempt to limit freedom of navigation in the strategic waters.

The Chinese Defense Ministry also announced that it had dispatched a naval vessel to warn the American warship to leave the area. It further emphasized that Beijing maintained irrefutable sovereignty over the South China Sea islands and the waters around them.

China’s Foreign Ministry issued its own statement, strongly warning the US to halt such “provocative” moves and to “immediately correct its mistakes.”

The latest tensions between China and the US come amid deteriorating military ties between the two global powers and shortly after Beijing expressed anger at Washington’s latest sanctions on China’s military for the purchase of Russian military hardware as well as the surging of US support for self-ruled Taiwan, which China regards as part of its territory.

Meanwhile, Reuters said in a report that China had cancelled a security meeting with US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, planned for later in October.

While Beijing has not yet reacted to the report, the Defense Ministry had hinted last week that the planned visit might not materialize.

The world’s two-largest economies are also locked in a trade war, initiated by the US.

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