FILE - In this Sept. 20, 2017 file photo, Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, left, shakes hands with China's President Xi Jinping before a meeting at The Great Hall Of The People in Beijing. Xi welcomed Lee to Beijing as the two sides seek to patch up relations following months of tensions over China’s claims in the South China Sea and relations with the U.S. (AP)
BEIJING, Oct 11: China is protesting the sailing of a U.S. Navy ship near its territorial claims in the South China Sea, saying it will continue to take measures to protect Beijing's interests in the vital waterway claimed by several nations.
A U.S. official said the destroyer USS Chafee sailed near the Paracel Islands on Tuesday, coming within 16 nautical miles (30 kilometers) of land.
Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying on Wednesday denounced the mission as dangerous and a violation of China's sovereignty. She said the military verified the presence of the U.S. ship by sea and air and warned it off.
China claims the South China Sea and its islands virtually in their entirety. The U.S. Navy regularly sails through the area to assert freedom of navigation.