Top US, Chinese naval officers hold video talks on South China Sea

China will express its "solemn position" on a United States warship that sailed within 12 nautical miles of one of China's man-made islands in the South China Sea.
China will express its "solemn position" on a United States warship that sailed within 12 nautical miles of one of China's man-made islands in the South China Sea.PHOTO: REUTERS

WASHINGTON (AFP) - The chief of United States naval operations met with his Chinese counterpart via a video call on Thursday (Oct 29), two days after a US destroyer sailed close to artificial islands built by Beijing in the South China Sea.

The call between Admiral John Richardson and Admiral Wu Shengli, who commands the Chinese navy, lasted about an hour, Navy spokesman Lieutenant Tim Hawkins said.

“It was professional and productive,” he said, but refused to provide details on the talks.

The USS Lassen guided missile destroyer sailed within 12 nautical miles of at least one of the land formations claimed by China in the disputed Spratly Islands chain on Tuesday.

The move infuriated Beijing, which summoned the US ambassador and denounced what it called a threat to its sovereignty.

Tensions have mounted since China transformed reefs in the area – also claimed by several neighboring countries – into small islands capable of supporting military facilities, a move the US says threatens freedom of navigation.

Washington has repeatedly said it does not recognize Chinese claims to territorial waters around the artificial islands.

A US official told AFP on Tuesday that the US Navy would send more warships to sail close to the controversial islets.