Despite repeated warnings from a nearby Chinese frigate, USS John McCain continued to sail and past the Mischief Reef in the South China Sea.
The US warship passed within 12 nautical miles of both land features, according to Reuters, in a “freedom of navigation operation” or FONOP, whereby the US shows China it doesn’t respect its maritime claims in the South China Sea.
The Chinese frigate “called and said ‘Please turn around, you are in our waters,’” a US defense official told the Guardian.
“We told them we are a US [ship] conducting routine operations in international waters,” the official continued.
Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said the actions of the USS John S. McCain had violated Chinese and international law, “seriously” impairing the country’s sovereignty and security.
“China is strongly dissatisfied with this,” Geng said in a statement, adding that Beijing would lodge an official protest with Washington.