World Bulletin / News Desk
An angry Beijing warned off a US warship after it sailed near an artificial island in the disputed South China Sea in the latest operation aimed at loosening the Asian giant's grip on the strategic waterway.
"China is strongly dissatisfied with this," Geng said in a statement, adding that Beijing would lodge an official protest with Washington.
The USS John S. McCain destroyer sailed within six nautical miles of Mischief Reef -- an artificial island built by China -- on Thursday as part of a "freedom of navigation" operation, a US official said.
The reef is part of the disputed Spratly Islands in the South China Sea, which is the scene of rival claims between China and neighbouring countries.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, the US official told AFP a Chinese frigate sent radio warnings at least 10 times to the USS McCain.
"They called and said 'please turn around, you are in our waters'," the official said. "We told them we are a US (ship) conducting routine operations in international waters."
The official said the interactions were all "safe and professional," with the operation lasting about six hours from start to finish, but Geng said such operations "seriously endanger lives".
The freedom of navigation operation was the third of its kind carried out by the United States since President Donald Trump took office in January.
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