Beijing slams U.S. 'freedom of navigation' exercises in South China Sea

China has protested such US military manoeuvres which President Donald Trump's administration has continued. Reuters File

China has territorial disputes with its neighbours over the area.

The U.S. exercise, the third of its kind to be held since President Donald Trump assumed office, was condemned as a violation of China's claim to sovereignty, CNN reported.

The new development comes amid Washington's attempts to get Beijing on board for more global pressure on North Korea over its development of nuclear warheads and ballistic missiles. "We strongly urge the United States to immediately correct its mistakes and stop provocative actions in the name of 'freedom of navigation.' United States provocations will only prompt the Chinese military to further upgrade its defense capabilities to firmly preserve national sovereignty and security".

"China is resolutely opposed to this kind of show of force and pushing of regional militarization by the US that may easily cause an unexpected incident at sea or in the air", it said in a statement.

China's Foreign Ministry said on Thursday that the trespassing of a U.S. missile destroyer in China's territorial waters violated Chinese and global law, severely harmed Chinese sovereignty and security and seriously endangered the lives of soldiers at the front line.

Beijing also said it was "very displeased" with the warship's actions and urged the USA to respect to Chinese sovereignty and security.

The United States has criticized China's construction of islands and build-up of military facilities in the sea, and is concerned they could be used to restrict free nautical movement.

China's "nine-dash line" - its claimed territorial waters that extend hundreds of miles to the south and east of its island province of Hainan - abut its neighbors' claims and, in some cases, encroach upon them.

"That is true in the South China Sea as in other places around the globe". Beijing called the move a "serious political and military provocation".

The Trump administration has vowed to conduct more robust South China Sea operations.

"China is resolutely opposed to this kind of show of force and pushing of regional militarization by the USA that may easily cause an unexpected incident at sea or in the air", the ministry said in a statement.

The US is not involved in the long-seething disputes in the busy and potentially oil- and gas-rich waters involving China, Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam.

"And the point of that is to demonstrate that the United States will continue to fly, sail and operate wherever worldwide law allows".

Washington is dependent on Beijing to rein in the belligerent North Korea.

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