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22 January 2018, 02:07 | Franklin Nunez
Landsat overhead view of Panatag
China's foreign ministry saidUSS Hopper missile destroyer came within 12 nautical miles off Huangyan island, better known as the Scarborough Shoal and subject to a rival claim by the Philippines, a historic ally of the United States.
Beijing claims virtually the entire South China Sea, and has built up a series of man-made outposts in what the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) think tank has said is a bid to create "fully functioning air and naval bases".
"We face growing threats from revisionist powers as different as China and Russian Federation are from each other, nations that do seek to create a world consistent with their authoritarian models, pursuing veto authority over other nations' economic, diplomatic and security decisions", Mattis added.
Washington has lambasted Beijing for its man-made islands in the South China Sea, with some home to military-grade airfields and weapons.
Lu observed that the US Navy vessel violated sovereignty and security interests in Beijing, and acted in a threatening manner against Chinese vessels and personnel in the area.
Aside from the Philippines and China, other claimants in the disputed waters are Brunei, Malaysia, Vietnam and Taiwan. But since the global community doesn't recognize many claims by China in the South China Sea, including its claim to the Scarborough Shoal, the USA demonstrates its displeasure with China by conducting "freedom of navigation" operations with Navy warships.
In a statement, the Pentagon did not directly comment on the patrol but said the United States routinely carries out "freedom of navigation" operations, a summary of which would be released in an annual report.
But Lu said on Saturday that China's sovereignty over the islets and the nearby waters was indisputable.
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"We strongly urge the US to rectify its mistake immediately and cease this kind of provocation so as not to harm Sino-US relations and regional peace and stability", Lu said.
The shoal, which China calls Huangyan Dao, is about 120 miles west of Luzon in the Philippines.
Twelve nautical miles is the territorial limit recognised internationally.
Beijing asserts sovereignty over nearly all of the South China Sea despite rival claims from the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia and others.
"The United States can take care of its own interest", he added.
The Philippines has sparred with China for decades over what it says is aggressive conduct at the Scarborough Shoal.
China's defence ministry dismissed those claims on Saturday, saying "the situation in the South China Sea has steadily stabilised".
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