U.S. warship sails close to Chinese-controlled features in South China Sea

US Navy Destroyer Sails Near Islands Claimed by China in South China Sea

China has lodged solemn representations with the United States after a USA destroyer intruded into China's territorial waters in the South China Sea on Tuesday.

The number of Chinese medical tourists to South Korea declined sharply in the first half of this year, mainly due to the diplomatic row with China over the deployment of a USA anti-missile system here, government data showed Wednesday.

"In the face of repeated provocation by the USA forces, the Chinese military will further strengthen preparation for combat at sea and in the air and improve the defenses to resolutely defend national sovereignty and security interests", China's Defense Ministry said in a statement, quoted by the South China Morning Post newspaper.

The Paracel Islands have been controlled by China since 1974 but they are also claimed by Vietnam and Taiwan.

The Pentagon did not comment directly on the operation, but said the United States carried out regular freedom-of-navigation operations and would continue to do so.

The US "stirs up trouble" and runs "in the opposite direction from countries in the region who aspire for stability, cooperation and development", a statement from the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs said at the time.

China would further strengthen its naval and air defenses, the ministry said.

Twelve nautical miles mark internationally recognized territorial limits.

China, in turn, has accused the United States of illegally trespassing into what it sees as its territorial waters.

Trump's trip to Asia will likely be dominated by the North Korean nuclear threat.

In recent weeks, North Korea has launched two missiles over Japan and conducted its sixth nuclear test, all in defiance of U.N. Security Council resolutions, and may be fast advancing toward its goal of developing a nuclear-tipped missile capable of hitting the USA mainland.

The incident comes as USA officials are pressing China to use more economic and diplomatic pressure on North Korea to prevent further military escalation in the region.

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