China rebukes U.S. military for alleged close encounter in South China Sea

China vows

China's foreign ministry said USS Hopper missile destroyer came within 12 nautical miles off Huangyan island, better known as the Scarborough Shoal and subject to a rival claim by the Philippines, a historic ally of the United States.

China claims virtually the entire South China Sea and has tried to fortify its foothold in recent years by transforming reefs into island outposts.

The Chinese government has accused the USA of trespassing in its territorial waters after a U.S. guided missile destroyer sailed near a disputed shoal in the South China Sea.

"We face growing threats from revisionist powers as different as China and Russian Federation are from each other, nations that do seek to create a world consistent with their authoritarian models, pursuing veto authority over other nations' economic, diplomatic and security decisions", Mattis added. On Tuesday, Brian Hook, a senior adviser to U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, accused Beijing of breaking global law by pushing around smaller states as it militarizes the South China Sea.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang said the ship violated his country's sovereignty and security interests.

USA freedom of navigation operations are meant to test Chinese claims and assert the US position that the contested features lay in worldwide waters.

Lu, in the statement, said "China has indisputable sovereignty over Huangyan Dao and the adjacent waters".

"We strongly urge the US side to immediately correct its mistake and stop making such provocative moves so as to avoid undermining China-US relations and regional peace and stability", he said.

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Twelve nautical miles is an internationally recognised territorial limit.

Unlike some of China's man-made islands elsewhere in the South China Sea, Scarborough Shoal is uninhabited and does not have a runway or any military fortifications.

The Philippines and China are both claiming sovereignty over the Scarborough Shoal.

China says it wants to settle any territorial disputes over the South China Sea through bilateral negotiations.

"China always respects and safeguards the freedom of navigation and overflight in the South China Sea all countries are entitled to under the worldwide law".

The Philippines has sparred with China for decades over what it says is aggressive conduct at the Scarborough Shoal.

"We hope that the United States will respect China's sovereignty, respect the efforts made by the countries within the region, and not cause trouble out of nothing or make waves", Defense Ministry spokesman Wu Qian said in a statement, adding that China would intensify its patrols in the air and at sea.

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