China urges US not to act ‘rashly’ in warship patrol of disputed islands

BEIJING — The United States should exercise caution in its foray into the South China Sea defined by Beijing as sovereign waters, the Chinese Foreign Ministry cited Foreign Minister Wang Yi as saying on Tuesday.

US media outlets cited an unnamed Pentagon official as saying that guided missile destroyer USS Lassen was patrolling within 12 nautical miles of the Spratly Islands in an operation said to be completed “within a few hours.”

Beijing claims sovereignty over the seven artificial islands it had built over the past year and the 12-nautical-mile radius around them.

“We are verifying [the reports], if true, we advise the US to think and not act rashly or make much ado about nothing,” the ministry cited Wang as saying.

Earlier in October, the US Navy was reportedly set to send a surface ship inside the territorial boundary China has drawn around the Spratly Islands within days, pending White House approval. White House spokesman Josh Earnest said at the time the move “should not provoke” Beijing.

Countries located in and around the areas of the South China Sea, including the Philippines, Malaysia and Vietnam, have expressed competing claims to the disputed Spratly Islands.

The United States has warned it does not recognize the sovereignty of the Chinese claims, and has repeatedly raised concerns over Beijing’s activities in the region. PNA/Sputnik