China calls Navy’s patrol through disputed islands ‘provocative’

China said Wednesday that the U.S. Navy’s sailing of a warship close to one of its artificial islands was a “provocative” maneuver and it placed personnel and infrastructure on the island in jeopardy.


China’s Foreign Ministry said on its website that Executive Vice Minister Zhang Yesui told American ambassador Max Baucus the U.S. had acted in defiance of Chinese objections to the Navy sending a ship within its 12-nautical mile territorial zone Tuesday.


The ministry said China was “extremely dissatisfied and resolutely opposed” the U.S. action. The State Department declined to comment on any of China’s remarks on Tuesday.


The USS Lassen’s patrol is considered the most significant challenge to China’s claims around the artificial islands it has built in the Spratly archipelago. China said authorities monitored and warned the destroyer as it entered the territory around Subi Reef. China’s defense ministry also said a Chinese guided-missile destroy and navy patrol ship was shadowing the Navy vessel, according to Reuters.


However, an unnamed U.S. defense official told the Associated Press the patrol was completed without incident. Navy Cmdr. Bill Urban, a Pentagon spokesman, declined to comment on the matter.


China’s national newspaper slammed the U.S. for “provoking” China and claimed the country isn’t afraid of fighting a war against the U.S. in the South China Sea, according to The Guardian.


“In (the) face of U.S. harassment, Beijing should deal with Washington tactfully and prepare for the worst,” a Global Times editorial said. “This can convince the White House that China, despite its unwillingness, is not frightened to fight a war with the U.S. in the region, and is determined to safeguard its national interests and dignity.”


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