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South China Sea: Why so Much Hype Now? © AP Photo/ Ritchie B. Tongo

21:51 27.10.2015(updated 22:03 27.10.2015) Get short URL

Beijing has urged Washington to refrain from any intended provocation that threatens the country’s sovereignty and security interests.

The message came after the USS Lassen warship passed some twelve nautical miles from the disputed Spratly islands in the South China Sea on Tuesday morning.

Reportedly, the US warship sailed in waters surrounding at least one of the land formations claimed by China in the island chain.

According to Washington, the move was aimed at exercising the right to freely navigate international waters, but China dubbed it “illegal”.

Some analysts say that the move was aimed at challenging China’s claim of control over the area.

Dr. Jay Batongbacal, Director of the Institute for Maritime Affairs & Law of the Sea of the University of the Philippines, spoke to Sputnik in an exclusive interview.

“It is a move to demonstrate the United States’ support for the position of the countries with respect to navigation rights that should be applicable in the South China Sea. That includes freedom of navigation through the high sea areas as well as navigation rights though territorial waters,” Jay told Sputnik.

The area of the Spratly Islands is where the interests of many nations converge, hence, making it the disputed territory.

He went on to say that considering that most of the countries in the region do not recognize China’s expansive claims; any action by China which will enforce the claim may result in something critical.

“Overall the US and China’s relations have been following a particular track despite this dispute. It is a kind of kink in the relations but hopefully it will not come to dominate the relations between two countries.”

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