“A serious political and military provocation”, that’s the view of Beijing after a US warship sailed close to a disputed island in the South China sea.
The USS Stethem, a guided-missile destroyer, passed within 12 nautical miles of Triton Island, part of the Paracel Islands on Sunday.
Along with China, the archipelago is also claimed by Taiwan and Vietnam.
The US navy said the operation was conducted as part of a ‘‘freedom of navigation exercise’‘
China responded by deploying military vessels and fighter planes.
The incident happened only hours before Presidents’ Trump and Xi Jinping spoke on the phone.
It is the second time in just over two months that Washington has directly challenged Beijing’s territorial claims in the South China sea.
The US has repeatedly warned China against its occupation and rapid expansion of bases on islands in the disputed waters.
But Beijing insists that it is within its sovereign rights.