Recent developments surrounding the South China Sea

Posted May 29, 2018

The two ships sailed within 12 nautical miles of China's disputed waters, according to reports.

U.S. military vessels carried out maneuvering operations near Tree, Lincoln, Triton and Woody islands in the Paracels, one of the officials said.

The operation also came just days after the Pentagon uninvited China from a major US-hosted naval drill.

China's island-building programme in the South China Sea has sparked concern around the region and in Washington about Chinese intentions.

In the Paracel Islands, U.S. freedom of navigation operations have been created to protest China's prior notification requirements for innocent passage transits with 12 nautical miles of features and Beijing's straight baselines around the island group, which are illegal under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

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The US military did not directly comment on Sunday's operation, but said US forces operate in the region daily.

The ministry said the course plotted by the vessels had "seriously infringed upon Chinese sovereignty" and "contravened Chinese and relevant worldwide law", as they had entered territorial waters without permission.

In another statement by China's Foreign Ministry, it told the USA to stop such military exercises.

"China will continue to take all necessary measures to defend the country's sovereignty and security", it added, without elaborating.

China has recently shored up its claims to disputed islands and reinforced military bases in both the Paracel and Spratly Islands.

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China has been deploying serious military power to the region - including constructing manmade islands bristling with missiles.

The move has been conducted several times in the past three years in defiance of China's claims it owns the disputed territory.

State-run news agency Xinhua said the two vessels were "expelled" from the waters.

Trump also escalated tensions with North Korea after he called off a planned nuclear disarmament summit with Kim Jong Un after the communist leader insulted VP Mike Pence.

China has accused Washington of viewing Beijing in "Cold War" terms.

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