China fumes as US sends warship close to disputed island

03 Jul 2017 | Written by Abheet Sethi; Edited by Gaurav

USS Stethem, a US Navy guided-missile destroyer, sailed within 12 nautical miles of Triton Island, a disputed island in the South China Sea.

The US Defense Department said the "freedom-of-navigation operation" was aimed at challenging rivalling territorial claims by China, Taiwan and Vietnam.

China called the move "a serious political and military provocation" and sent warships and fighter jets to the island.

In context: US warship sails close to China-claimed island

The DisputeWhat is the South China Sea dispute about?

The South China dispute is over territory and sovereignty over ocean areas, particularly along the Paracel and the Spratly island chains.

These island chains are claimed by a number of countries in the region including China, Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei.

The islands lie among the world's busiest shipping lanes and have vast mineral resources around them, making them highly strategic assets.

25 May 2017US warship sails past disputed SCS island

On May 25, in the first provocative action since Donald Trump took office, a US warship sailed 12 nautical miles away from an artificial island that China constructed on a disputed part of the South China Sea.

The US Dewey ship sailed past the Mischief Reef in the Spratly Islands.

The operation was one of the US' freedom of navigation operations.

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03 Jul 2017China fumes as US sends warship close to disputed island

Significance of US Navy operation

As per international law, a country's territorial limits extend up to 12 nautical miles from its coast. The US demonstrates that it isn't recognizing China's territorial claims over the island by sailing within the 12 nautical miles.

What happened?China controls disputed islands where US sent warship

Triton Island is part of the Spratly Islands which have been occupied by China.

The "freedom-of-navigation" exercise is the second since US President Donald Trump took office in January.

The latest incident happened just before a phone call between Trump and Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping.

It comes days after US Defense Secretary said Washington won't accept Beijing's militarization of artificially-built islands in the region.

Chinese statementChina accuses US of 'deliberately stirring up troubles' in region

"China strongly urges the US side to immediately stop this kind of provocative action which seriously violates China's sovereignty and puts at risk China's security," said China's foreign ministry.

China said it would take "all necessary means to defend" itself.

It said the US is "deliberately stirring up troubles" in the region even as the situation has cooled down.