US warship sails close to disputed island in South China Sea, Beijing calls it 'provocation'
Image for representation. Photograph: (Others)
A US warship on Sunday sailed close to a disputed island in the South China Sea that is claimed by China, media reports said.
The USS Stethem sailed within 12 nautical miles of Triton Island in the Paracel archipelago, which is claimed by China, Vietnam and Taiwan.
Beijing said the passage of the US warship was a "serious political and military provocation", adding that it would take "all necessary means to defend national sovereignty and security".
China had dispatched military vessels and fighter planes in response, foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang said in a statement late Sunday, according to state news agency Xinhua.
"The Chinese side strongly urges the US side to immediately stop such kind of provocative operations that violate China's sovereignty and threaten China's security," the spokesman said.
The US Navy was conducting a "freedom of navigation exercise" in the disputed waters.
This came just hours before a scheduled phone call between President Donald Trump and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping.
It was the second operation of its kind carried out by the US since Trump took office.
In May, the USS Dewey sailed less than 12 nautical miles from an artificial island built by China called Mischief Reef.