PH backs US Navy presence in disputed maritime area

Southeast Asian body notes concerns on South China Sea

Chinese military lodges stern representations to Japan over latter's Defence White Paper

It was reportedly the third freedom of navigation operation challenging the territorial claims of China in the region since US President Donald Trump took office.

USA officials confirmed that the USS John S. McCain had sailed to Mischief Reef.

As in April, when Duterte oversaw an earlier ASEAN statement on the South China Sea, the words "serious concern" were missing from the communique, although they have appeared in ASEAN statements on the issue since 2014.

China accused the United States of breaching its sovereignty and worldwide law norms after an American warship came close to the Spratly archipelago in the South China Sea.

In a statement in Beijing, Spokesperson of Chinese Foreign Ministry, Gen Shuang called upon the US administration to refrain from any further action detrimental to the China-US mutual trust and regional stability.

Defending the first Chinese overseas naval base against accusations that it was created to amplify China's growing influence, Liang said it will act as a logistical center and support anti-piracy, United Nations peacekeeping operations and humanitarian relief missions in the region.

China's Foreign Ministry Spokesman Geng Shuang said the actions of the USS John S. McCain had violated Chinese and global law, "seriously" impairing the country's sovereignty and security.

It adds China should also make clear that if North Korea launches missiles that threaten US soil and the USA retaliates, "China will stay neutral".

China is expanding artificial islands in disputed South China Sea areas despite saying it stopped two years ago, according to a security think tank that released satellite images it said showed the land reclamation.

The United States has criticised China's construction of islands and build-up of military facilities in the sea, and is concerned they could be used to restrict free nautical movement.

A Chinese frigate has warned off a USA destroyer carrying out a new freedom of navigation operation in the South China Sea, which is nearly entirely claimed by China.

Wang's claim "is false" and China's reclamation work "did not end in mid-2015 with the completion of its artificial islands in the Spratlys", said the report. The operations, according to anonymous officials, were meant to challenge China's claim on trade routes now contested by Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan, and Vietnam.

"As you all know, U.S. forces will operate in the Asia-Pacific region". The three countries have criticised the Chinese claims, which they said pose a threat to freedom of navigation and overflight in the area, which sees about US$5 trillion (166 trillion baht) of goods pass through annually.

At the same time, he made it clear that China would never "intrude into other countries" but would also not "be obstructed by other countries".

China and the Asean countries are focusing on strengthening cooperation to promote comprehensive and effective implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) and jointly develop regional rules.

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