An aerial photo taken though a glass window of a Taiwanese military plane shows the view of Itu Aba, which the Taiwanese call Taiping, at the South China Sea, March 23, 2016. REUTERS/Ministry of Foreign Affairs/Handout
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A U.S. navy warship sailed close to a disputed reef in the South China Sea Tuesday, a U.S. Department of Defense official said, prompting anger in Beijing which denounced the patrol as illegal and a threat to peace and stability.Facilities on Fiery Cross Reef include a 3,000-metre (10,000-foot) runway and Washington is concerned China will use it to press its extensive territorial claims at the expense of weaker rivals.Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said the U.S. ship illegally entered Chinese waters and was tracked and warned.China has reacted with anger to previous U.S. freedom of navigation operations, including the overflight of fighter planes near the disputed Scarborough Shoal last month, and when long-range U.S. bombers flew near Chinese facilities under construction on Cuarteron Reef in the Spratlys last November.
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