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The Chinese military said that it expelled the US warship USS John McCain on Tuesday, when it crossed the waters adjacent to the Chinese Nansha islands without Beijing’s permission, according to the Chinese newspaper Global Times.

The newspaper quoted the spokesman for the Chinese Army’s Southern Theater Command, Colonel Tian Junli, as saying that China prepared naval and air forces and then “warned” and “expelled” the US destroyer, in a move considered by the newspaper as an indication of Beijing’s control over the region and the ability of the Chinese armed forces to ensure security, safety and sovereignty.

“The Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Southern Theater Command on Tuesday warned away a US warship that trespassed the South China Sea, leading analysts to say the PLA has again demonstrated its control over the region and ability to safeguard national sovereignty and security,” the Global Times reported on Tuesday.

The Chinese high-ranking officer considered what the US destroyer did as a “serious violation” of the security and sovereignty of China, vowing that his country’s forces were on “permanent high alert” to protect Chinese sovereignty, security and stability in the region “strictly.”

“The US action was a serious violation of China’s sovereignty and security, and it gravely disrupted peace and stability in the South China Sea, which China is resolutely against, Tian said, noting that the command troops are on high alert at all times and will firmly carry out their duties and missions to safeguard national sovereignty and security as well as peace and stability in the region,” the Global Times reported.

The US’ “freedom of navigation” operations in the South China Sea have become routine since 2017, and by conducting a new one at this time, the Trump administration is using its last month to leave president-elect Joe Biden with more trouble in US-China relations, Chen Xiangmiao, an assistant research fellow at the National Institute for South China Sea Studies, told the Global Times on Tuesday.

The US has conducted similar operations nine times so far in 2020, the most often in the past five years, according to South China Sea Strategic Situation Probing Initiative, a Beijing-based think tank.

This comes a day after the sailing of the Shandong, the first Chinese aircraft carrier domestically, in the waters of the South China Sea to conduct exercises.