U.S. warships conduct freedom-of-navigation exercise in South China Sea

The historic June 12 summit between the US and North Korea may still be on track

Chinese officials reacted angrily to the presence of two U.S. Navy warships in the South China Sea on Sunday, with a Defense Ministry spokesman calling it a "provocation" and "a serious infringement on China's sovereignty".

According to U.S. officials, this time, the Higgins guided-missile destroyer and the Antietam, a guided-missile cruiser, came within 12 nautical miles of the disputed Paracel Islands.

The Higgins guided-missile destroyer and the Antietam, a guided-missile cruiser, carried out manoeuvering operations near Tree, Lincoln, Triton and Woody islands in the Paracels, one of the officials said.

In a statement, the ministry said the military immediately dispatched naval ships and aircraft to "warn them off".

The foreign ministry issued a statement expressing "resolute opposition" to the U.S. sail-by of the territory in the disputed Paracel Island chain on Sunday.

"The U.S. has seriously violated China's sovereignty, undermined strategic mutual trust, and undermined peace and security in the South China Sea", Wu added.

In the Paracel Islands, U.S. freedom of navigation operations have been created to protest China's prior notification requirements for innocent passage transits with 12 nautical miles of features and Beijing's straight baselines around the island group, which are illegal under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

Israel Setting Up Barrier to Prevent Gazan Infiltration by Sea
A relative of a Palestinian who was killed at the Israel-Gaza border reacts at a hospital, in the southern Gaza Strip May 6, 2018. According to the Israeli army, the four were in Israel for about a minute and left a tent that read " The March of Return ".

Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano on Monday challenged critics to provide evidence that the Duterte administration failed in protecting the country's rights over disputed islands in the South China Sea.

These types of operations are known as "freedom of navigation" with naysayers claiming that they have little impact on Chinese behavior and are largely symbolic.

Columnist Federico Pascual Jr. said, "A confident China has stepped up its setting up of military installations on artificial islands built in the Philippines' Exclusive Economic Zone with Duterte looking the other way".

Last week, Chinese bombers landed on islands and reefs claimed by the Philippines, prompting Manila to take "appropriate diplomatic action" on the matter.

But China will miss out on the exercises this year, which are held in Hawaii, following Mattis' decision.

China has accused Washington of viewing Beijing in "Cold War" terms.

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