July 3, 2017 / 6:22 AM / 2 months ago

China's defence ministry says U.S. damaged stability in South China Sea

The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Stethem transits waters east of the Korean peninsula during a photo exercise including the United States Navy and the Republic of Korea Navy during Operation Foal Eagle March 22, 2017. U.S. Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Kurtis A. Hatcher/Handout viaFiles

BEIJING (Reuters) - The United States has seriously damaged peace and stability in the South China Sea after a U.S. warship sailed near a disputed island in waters claimed by China, the Asian nation's defence ministry said on Monday.

The ministry resolutely opposes the entry of U.S. warships into Chinese territory, it said in a statement on social media.

The actions of the United States navy seriously damaged the "political atmosphere" around the development of military ties between the two countries, the ministry added.

The USS Stethem, a guided-missile destroyer, sailed within 12 nautical miles of Triton Island, part of the Paracel Islands in the South China Sea, a U.S. Defense Department official said.

Reporting by Christian Shepherd

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