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China’s Defense Ministry has accused the U.S. of “serious political and military provocation” after the U.S. Navy conducted its first so-called freedom of navigation operation (FONOP) in the disputed South China Sea since January.

China said the USS Mustin, a guided-missile destroyer, entered the contentious waters Friday and was “warned off” by two Chinese ships. The Chinese Defense Ministry did not give a location for the operation, but media reports, citing unidentified U.S. officials, reported that the Mustin had sailed within 12 nautical miles (22 km) of Mischief Reef in the Spratly Islands and carried out maneuvering operations.

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