China has slammed a US missile destroyer for encroaching on the “indisputable” Huangyan Dao island in the South China Sea, warning that it can and will take “necessary measures to firmly safeguard its sovereignty.”

In this latest clash over freedom of navigation in the disputed South China Sea, the USS ‘Hopper’ missile destroyer sailed within 12 nautical miles of Huangyan Dao, a tiny island claimed by China, on January 17. The vessel failed to get Beijing’s permission for entering the waters and was intercepted by the Chinese Navy, with China’s Foreign Ministry accusing the US of violating “sovereignty and security interests” as well as posing a “grave threat” to its forces stationed in the area.

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