Philippines says it told China of 'red lines' in sea feud

US Navy

US Navy

In a move likely to anger Beijing, the Higgins, a guided-missile destroyer, and the Antietam, a guided-missile cruiser, came within 12 nautical miles of the Paracel Islands in the South China Sea.

Several US officials who declined to be named said the two US warships came within 12 nautical miles of the Paracel Islands, maneuvering near Tree, Lincoln, Triton and Woody islands in the operations.

The operation was the latest attempt to counter what Washington sees as Beijing's efforts to limit freedom of navigation in the strategic waters.

In a statement, the U.S. Pacific Fleet said such operations "challenge excessive maritime claims and demonstrate our commitment to uphold the rights, freedoms, and uses of the sea and airspace guaranteed to all nations under global law".

The chief spokesman for China's Ministry of National Defense, Senior Col. Wu Qian, said the American military had "seriously violated China's sovereignty, [and] undermined strategic mutual trust".

The Philippine foreign secretary says China has been notified of "red lines", or actions Manila would find unacceptable, in the South China Sea, including construction activities on a disputed shoal and extraction of oil and gas in disputed waters.

'China will continue to take all necessary measures to defend the country's sovereignty and security, ' it added, without elaborating.

China's military, he said, would be "firm and unwavering in its determination to strengthen sea and air operational preparedness construction" on the islands.

China claims that all its military forces in the South China Sea are purely defensive.

RIMPAC is held every two years and involves more than 20 countries, including Japan, India, and the UK.

U.S. officials accused Beijing of breaking a promise the Chinese leader, Xi Jinping, made in 2015 when he said China did not intend to militarise the disputed territories.

That drill was followed by live-fire military exercises on China's side of the Taiwan Strait.

'China's continued militarization of disputed features in the South China Sea only serves to raise tensions and destabilize the region, ' Pentagon spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Chris Logan said.

Trump's cancellation of a summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has put further strain on U.S.

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