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China Launches Military Vessels, Fighter Planes As US Warship Nears South China Sea

न्यूज़ वर्ल्ड इंडिया | 0
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| July 3 , 2017 , 09:52 IST

A clear sign of the souring relations between superpowers China and the United States, Beijing dispatched military vessels and fighter planes to ward off a US warship that came close to a disputed island in the controversial South China Sea.

As the USS Stethem destroyer sailed less than 12 nautical miles from the tiny Triton Island of the Paracel Islands archipelago in the South China Sea, a distance considered to be the 'territorial waters' of a landmass, Beijing termed the act a "serious political and military provocation" one that could further strain relations between the superpowers.

The operation came hours before a scheduled phone call between US President Donald Trump and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping.

"The Chinese side strongly urges the US side to immediately stop such kind of provocative operations that violate China's sovereignty and threaten China's security," foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang said in a statement.

The statement also said, "Beijing would continue to take all necessary means to defend national sovereignty and security".

The venturing of USS Stethem into the South China Sea to demonstrate the freedom of navigation in disputed waters is the second such operation carried out by the US since President Donald Trump took office.

The South China Sea and its various islands are being claimed by different nations including Taiwan, Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia, and Vietnam. China has made efforts to cement its rights in the area by building up artificial islands and securing its military forces in the contested area.

The warship venturing into the South China Sea comes in the wake of other measures taken by the US that are likely to strain the US-China relations. Recently, Trump authorised a $1.3 billion arms sale to Taiwan, which China considers to be a rebel province thereby going against the 'One China Policy'.

The US Treasury Department also imposed sanctions on a Chinese bank accused of laundering North Korean cash. Meanwhile, the US State Department also put China on a list of the world's worst human trafficking offenders.