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China has made ‘stern representations’ to the US after an American destroyer sailed through waters claimed by Beijing in the disputed South China Sea.

Chinese officials spoke to their US counterparts as they arrived in Beijing for talks aimed at deescalating an ongoing trade war.

China has long claimed territorial rights over the South China Sea, one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes, but the US argues it is international waters.

To that end, America carries out what it calls ‘freedom of navigation operations’ by sailing within 12 nautical miles of islands claimed by the Chinese – but which also have rival claims from other nations, including US allies.

The U.N. defines territorial waters as being within 12 nautical miles of a country’s coastline.

On Monday the USS McCampbell, a guided missile destroyer, sailed within 12 nautical miles of the Paracel Islands ‘to challenge excessive maritime claims’ by China, Pacific Fleet spokeswoman Rachel McMarr said.

China has controlled the islands since seizing control of them from Vietnamese forces in 1974, but Vietnam and Taiwan still lay claim to them.

Daily mail report

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