Vietnam scraps South China Sea oil drilling project under pressure from Beijing

An airstrip structures and buildings on China's man-made Subi Reef in the Spratly chain of islands in the South China Sea are seen from a Philippine Air Force C-130 transport plane of the Philippine Air Force

"We hope the relevant sides can work together to maintain the hard-earned positive situation in the South China Sea", she said.

Though sources in Beijing did not reveal the location where the American "interference" took place, other reports quoted anonymous United States officials to say that the destroyer had reached within 12 nautical miles of Mischief Reef in the Spratly Islands to conduct the operations. China has territorial disputes with its neighbours over the area.

"We ask the U.S.to respect the sovereignty and security of China, respect the will of countries in the region, who want peace, stability and tranquility, and not to make trouble out of nothing", he said, adding that further "provocation would only drive the Chinese military to continue to improve its defense capabilities".

However, the latest operation, the first since January, came just one day after US President Donald Trump lit a slow-burning fuse when he signed a presidential memorandum that would target up to US$60 billion in Chinese goods with tariffs, but only after a 30-day consultation period that starts once a list is published.

The U.S. has repeatedly objected to Beijing's expansion in the region and its building of artificial islands with military facilities, and insisted on freedom of navigation in the South China Sea's waters.

When asked about the operation, the US military said its activities are carried out under worldwide law and American forces operate in the region on a daily bases.

While Beijing will safeguard the freedom of navigation and overflight in the South China Sea as stipulated by global law, it "resolutely opposes any illegal provocation in the name of 'freedom of navigation, '" he said.

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China's defense ministry claimed that by carrying out these so-called infringements, the US had "damaged the atmosphere of military-to-military relations between the two countries, caused close encounters by air and naval forces, which could easily trigger miscalculation or even accidents at sea or in air".

Beijing claims virtually the entire South China Sea, and has built up a series of man-made outposts in what the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) think tank has said is a bid to create "fully functioning air and naval bases".

Earlier this week, Taiwan's defense ministry said it shadowed a Chinese aircraft carrier group travelling in a southwesterly direction in the Taiwan Strait.

The guided-missile destroyer, the USS Dewey sailed within 12 nautical miles of the artificial Mischief Reef in the South China Sea's Spratly Islands at the time.

The United States has been pushing allies to carry out freedom of navigation operations as well.

"China holds indisputable sovereignty over the islands and their surrounding waters in the South China Sea", ministry spokesman Ren Guoqiang said in a statement.

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