China protests U.S. warship approaching Meiji reef

USS John S Mc Cain raised China's ire by sailing close to one of its artificial islands

USS John S Mc Cain raised China's ire by sailing close to one of its artificial islands

"Such a move severely undermines China's sovereignty and security, and severely endangers the safety of frontline personnel of both sides", Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang said in a statement.

The operation occurred at an awkward and tense moment, amid the war of words between the United States and North Korea.

McCain on Thursday entered the waters near Mishchief Reef in the Spratly Islands to carry out freedom of navigation operations in the area, reports Efe news.

Mischief Reef is one of the disputed features in the West Philippine Sea which falls within the Philippine exclusive economic zone and continental shelf but where China has carried out extensive land reclamation work and built an artificial island for possible military use.

Two other US Navy ships approached China-claimed islands in the South China Sea in July and May.

The South China Sea is filled with small islands, reefs and shoals and there are many territorial disputes between countries in the area. It's true in the South China Sea. Nicole Schwegman said all Navy operations "are conducted in accordance with worldwide law and demonstrate that the United States will fly, sail, and operate wherever global law allows".

China considered this a large concession to the US, the Guardian said.

"They called and said 'Please turn around, you are in our waters, '" the newspaper's source said. Its sweeping claims overlap with Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei all ASEAN members as well as Taiwan.

China's Defense Ministry said two Chinese warships "jumped into action" and warned the United States ship to leave, labelling the move a "provocation" that seriously harms mutual trust, Reuters said.

Sailing within those 12 miles is meant to show the USA does not recognise territorial claims there.

Now it seems China's patience with the territorial row is running out.

The operation came as President Donald Trump's administration seeks Chinese cooperation in dealing with North Korea's missile and nuclear programs and could complicate efforts to secure a common stance.

An inside view of the Chinese military over 120 years.

"China urges the U.S. to earnestly respect Chinese sovereignty and security interests as well as the joint effort by countries in the region to maintain peace and stability in the South China Sea", the ministry said.