China "displeased" as US Navy destroyer passes near artificial island

China's neighbors in the Pacific have feared that that the US's focus on North Korea may distract them from protecting freedom of navigation in the South China Sea, but a recent uptick in FONOPs from the United States may quell that fear.

Interaction between the Chinese and U.S. ships was "safe and professional", according to an unnamed United States official.

"If China helps us, I feel a lot differently toward trade", he said.

Opening its strategic South Sea Fleet base in the coastal city of Zhanjiang to a group of Indian journalists for the first time, People's Liberation Army Navy officials say the Indian Ocean is a "common place" for the worldwide community.

Moreover, US, Japan and Australia called on China and ASEAN nations to refrain from land reclamation, construction of military outposts and militarisation of maritime.

China says that the waters around the land features it occupies are its own territorial seas, consistent with its sweeping "nine-dash line" claim to most of the South China Sea.

It's part of the Spratly Islands, where China has built artificial islands to shore up its claim.

Tokyo is concerned that the growing number of Chinese military exercises held in the Sea of Japan and in crucial corridors into the western Pacific could ultimately erode its effective control of the East China Sea.

Although the Philippines has taken steps to improve ties with China under its current leader, Rodrigo Duterte, presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said Friday "we don't find (the sail-by) objectionable".

China has been especially assertive in the area recently, and has not shied away from harsh diplomatic confrontation with the other claimants.

Beijing slammed Washington for sending a warship to waters adjacent to one of its islands in the South China Sea, saying the action will only prompt Beijing to strengthen its defence.

In July 2016, The Hague's Permanent Court of Arbitration ruled that China has no rights for territorial claims in the region.

This was the second time a U.S. warship entered waters within 12 nautical miles of Meiji Reef without China's permission in recent months. According to the ruling, the disputed Spratly Islets are not an exceptional economic zone.

US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis and his Vietnamese counterpart Ngo Xuan Lich agreed to allow a US aircraft carrier to visit Vietnam next year - for the first time since the Vietnam war ended in 1975.

The U.S has dared China as its USS John S McCain Naval warship passed close to an artificial reef created by China in the South China Sea, prompting a protest from China.

The Guardian reported Friday a USA official said the Chinese frigate sent radio warning at least 10 times to the USS McCain.

"They called and said 'Please turn around, you are in our waters, '" he said. "Australia, which failed to find a balance between its economic dependence on China and security dependence on the United States, is also making trouble in the South China Sea", Jia Xiudong, a research fellow at China Institute of International Studies, wrote.

The official said the interactions were all "safe and professional", with the operation lasting about six hours. By disregarding limitations for territorial seas, the operation was meant to demonstrate that the waters near Mischief are not Chinese.

Vanessa Coleman

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