USA warship sails close to South China Sea island, China 'displeased'

Philippines offers North Korea ASEAN partner status

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi to seek their help in restraining North Korea, which threatens the U.S. with a nuclear attack.

The dispute over the McCain revolves around China's claim of sovereignty to the Spratlys, one of many quarrels in the contentious region.

This amounts to an explicit recognition that the Philippines is toeing China's line as ASEAN's chair. The operation on Thursday punctuated that stance.

China scolded the United States after the USS John S. McCain sailed near disputed reefs in the South China Sea on Thursday.

McCain sailed near a Chinese-made island in the South China Sea in a freedom of navigation exercise in the disputed region, USA media reported.

It was the third "freedom of navigation operation" or "fonop" conducted during Trump's presidency.

He said conducting patrol and law-enforcement activities in waters off the Diaoyu Islands is China's inherent right and Japan is in no position to point fingers at those activities.

This meshes neatly with China's call for non-claimant states and external powers to stay out of the issue, leaving the management of the various disputes exclusively to China and the ASEAN countries. The Chinese Foreign Ministry issued a similar statement. Meanwhile, China remains undaunted in its quest to dominate adjacent waters as an extension of its maritime and territorial domain.

The US supports neither nation's claims and insists that the sea should be a neutral space available for free navigation.

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From August 2-8, 2017, ASEAN leaders and their dialogue partners, including China and the United States, held a series of key security meetings in the Philippines. "So why don't some of you here ask them, could you give us the pictures or can you tell us what's happening in the whole West Philippine Sea, in the whole South China Sea, because if they show that, everyone will be protesting against each other".

Nicole Schwegman, spokeswoman for the US Pacific Fleet, said US military forces operate in the Asia Pacific region on a daily basis. Ongoing tensions in the South China Sea, on the Chinese-Indian border and on the Korean Peninsula will continue to produce new avenues of friction.

Defending the first Chinese overseas naval base against criticism that it would amplify China's growing influence, he said it will act as a logistics centre and support anti- piracy, United Nations peacekeeping operations and humanitarian relief missions in the region. US officials say the military will continue to sail, fly and operate wherever permitted by global law.

There are concerns China will not allow the code to be legally binding. "It's true in other places around the world, as well", Nauert said.

The Trump administration has vowed to conduct more robust South China Sea operations.

Vietnam has competing claims over the Spratly Islands and was reportedly recently threatened by China to stop oil drilling.

China's claims in the South China Sea, through which about $5 trillion in ship-borne trade passes each year are contested by Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam.

Beijing has reclaimed land in massive dredging operations, turning sandbars into islands equipped with airfields, ports and lighthouses.