Reuters first reported that two U.S. Navy warships sailed near South China Sea islands claimed by China on Sunday, even as President Donald Trump seeks Chinese cooperation on North Korea. A statement on the Chinese defence ministry's website said the class guided-missile destroyer USS Higgins and Ticonderoga class guided-missile cruiser USS Antietam entered waters China claims in the Paracel island group "without the permission of the Chinese government". "If anyone gets the natural resources in the West Philippine Sea-South China Sea, he will go to war".
"Chinese military took immediate actions by dispatching naval ships and aircrafts to conduct legal identification and verification of the USA warships and warn them off", Wu Qian, defense ministry spokesman, said in a statement released to the media.
Yue Gang, a retired PLA colonel and military analyst, said the security dialogue had often provided a platform for the United States and its allies to raise their concerns about China. "As the President said, we are not slaves to anyone", he pointed out.
China thought otherwise, calling the presence of the US ships unauthorized and provocative.
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".
China claims almost all of the South China Sea, despite those counterclaims.
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"Or, if our people are hurt there at Pag-asa Island".
Esperon also noted that the government is now upgrading its military facilities on Pagasa (Thitu) Island, the largest of nine features the Philippines occupies in the contested waters.
Mattis said American ships are maintaining a "steady drumbeat" of naval operations around the disputed islands, adding that "only one country" seems to be bothered by the vessels' routine activities.
"It is not the policy of this administration to engage in megaphone or microphone diplomacy, and announce each and every action, unless announcing it is beneficial to us", Cayetano said.
The waters surrounding the Spratly Islands, an archipelago consisting of more than 100 small islands or reefs around 500 miles from China's coast, see the presence of various military contingents from China, but also from Taiwan, Vietnam, Malaysia and the Philippines, all countries that make territorial claims to the area, along with Brunei, which claims it as part of its exclusive economic area.
The announcement underscores the continued deterioration in U.S.
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Manila is pursuing a joint exploration agreement with Beijing for oil and natural gas reserves in their claimed territory in the South China Sea.
Beijing has been building artificial islands to reinforce its claim over most of the resource-rich South China Sea, despite protests from Southeast Asian countries.
Before Singapore, Mattis is in Hawaii, where he will participate in a change of command ceremony at Pacific Command headquarters.
Mattis is set to deliver a speech on Saturday titled "US leadership and the challenges of Indo-Pacific security", which makes reference to China's increasing maritime competition with powers such as the USA and India.
Harris has been nominated to become the next USA ambassador to South Korea.
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China's Foreign Ministry and National Health Commission did not immediately respond to faxed questions about the report. It added the Chinese Government told the embassy it is also investigating and taking appropriate measures.