Philippines says it protests China 'harassment' of navy boat

U.S. Navy: Chinese warships maneuvered in

The operation was conducted just over a week after Beijing flew nuclear-capable bombers to a disputed island in a bold power-play to show its military might and boost its territorial claims in the area.

As Beijing stamps its foot in protest after each of the U.S.'s "freedom of navigation" exercises, which are sure to continue, and countries like the Philippines and Vietnam grow increasingly apprehensive of China's activity in the region, it seems the potential for military conflict grows with each passing day.

On Sunday, two US warships sailed close to the Paracel Islands, which lie north of the Spratlys, the latest freedom of navigation operation created to challenge Beijing's claims.

"Yes, we have differences with them (China), but we have made gains".

In 2016, an worldwide tribunal in The Hague ruled that Beijing's claims to sovereignty over South China Sea waters had no legal basis. "But we're also going to confront what we believe is out of step with worldwide law and out of step with global tribunals that have spoken on the issue, and part of this is we maintain a very transparent military activity out in the Pacific", Mattis said.

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In recent years, the US had sought to stabilize military relations with China, but the militarization of the islands has been a persistent point of conflict.

"Aside from deploying defensive weapons on the Spratly Islands, China should build a powerful deterrence system, including an aerial base and a roving naval force and base", the paper said.

The five islands are outside the exclusive economic zone of the Philippines and are more than 100 kilometers from the three reefs that allegedly have been militarized by China.

Zhou, who is also director of the Centre for Security Cooperation at the Office for International Military Cooperation under China's defence ministry, would take part in a panel session on Saturday on managing competition in regional security, the source said.

Esperon added that there are no islands occupied by China under the Duterte administration, despite the softened stance of the President over the hotly-contested waters.

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Esperon reported that five lighthouses have been built on Pag-asa, Likas, Parola, Patag and Kota islands - all part of the Kalayaan Group of Islands "to ensure safety of navigation, along our responsibility under the UNCLOS (United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea) to provide navigational safety for all global vessels transiting the West Philippine Sea". "We're very open about them".

The Pentagon, as it nearly always does, says the sailings were planned months in advance and that the timing in relation to recent tensions between China and the United States is coincidental.

What is the future of the South China Sea, and what part will the Philippines play?

He is stopping in Hawaii to mark a change in leadership at US Pacific Command. He will be replaced by Admiral Philip Davidson.

The country would go to war if Filipino soldiers in the South China Sea were harmed, Duterte's national security adviser said on May 30.

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But North Korean state media subsequently reported on Kim's "fixed will" that a summit with Trump should go ahead. Coons said on " Fox News Sunday".

The current head, Admiral Harry Harris, has been nominated to be the new ambassador to South Korea.

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