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US warship sails close to China-held island in disputed sea

MANILA — A U.S. warship sailed close to a Chinese man-made island in the disputed South China Sea in an operation that challenged China’s vast territorial claims in busy international waters, a U.S. Navy official said Thursday. The official said Chinese vessels were in the vicinity when the John S. McCain sailed in a “routine” freedom of navigation operation near Mischief Reef on Thursday. China, which claims the South China Sea virtually in entirety, has protested such repeated U.S. military operations, which President Trump’s administration has continued partly to reassure allies locked in territorial rifts with Beijing. China has reportedly installed a missile defense system on the new islands. U.S. Pacific Fleet spokeswoman Lt. Cmdr. Nicole Schwegman said all Navy operations “are conducted in accordance with international law and demonstrate that the United States will fly, sail, and operate wherever international law allows.” Washington’s critical actions came as it courts the help of China, North Korea’s ally, in taming Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons ambitions and ending its missile tests.

Article by By Jim Gomez (c) Page One News - Read full story here.