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Iran Press TV

US to continue testing waters around China islands: Top admiral

Iran Press TV

Tue Nov 3, 2015 12:56PM

The United States will continue to patrol the waters surrounding China's man-made islands in the disputed South China Sea, the head of the US Pacific Command said in Beijing.

"International seas and airspace belong to everyone and are not the dominion of any single nation,' Admiral Harry Harris said at the Stanford Center at Peking University on Tuesday.

"Our military will continue to fly, sail, and operate whenever and wherever international law allows. The South China Sea is not -- and will not -- be an exception," he added.

The top admiral defended an operation last week, which involved sailing a guided missile destroyer within 12 nautical miles of at least one of the land formations China claims in the Spratly Islands archipelago.

The move, which was meant to reassure allies in Japan, Vietnam and the Philippines in the face of China's actions, was quickly condemned by Beijing as a "deliberate provocation."

"We've been conducting freedom of navigation operations all over the world for decades, so no one should be surprised by them," Harris said.

The Pacific Command chief echoed US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter, who said last week that the US Navy will continue to operate in the South China Sea.

"We will fly, sail and operate wherever international law permits, and whenever our operation needs require it," Carter said last Tuesday at a congressional hearing.

Washington accuses Beijing of conducting a massive "land reclamation" program, whereby it has built up rocks and reefs into artificial islands with facilities for potential military use.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said Tuesday that Washington was calling on Beijing to stop militarizing the South China Sea while sending warships there itself.

"It is a typical manifestation of hypocrisy and hegemonism," she said.

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