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China on Thursday voiced strong protest against a US Navy warship passing close to the Meiji Reef in the South China Sea.

The “USS John S. McCain” illegally entered the waters near the reef and conducted a so-called “freedom of navigation operation” on Thursday without permission of the Chinese government, Xinhua quoted Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang as saying.

Geng added the Chinese Navy identified the US warship, warned and expelled it.

“Such a move severely undermines China’s sovereignty and security, and severely endangers the safety of frontline personnel of both sides,” he said.

With joint efforts of China and ASEAN members, the current situation in the South China Sea has stabilised and maintains a sound development momentum, he said, noting the recent China-ASEAN foreign ministers’ meeting adopted the framework of the Code of Conduct (COC).

“However, some parties from outside continue to meddle in the region under the guise of free navigation,” Geng said.

“It is clear who is not willing to see stability in the South China Sea and who is the major factor pushing for militarization in the South China Sea.”

Geng reiterated that the US provocation would force China to take further measures to strengthen homeland defense capacity.

First Published | 11 August 2017 7:59 AM
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