China has issued its strongest warning yet to the US over an incident during which a US destroyer sailed within territorial waters of China’s man-made islands in the South China Sea, claiming that US faces running the risk of “a minor incident that sparks war.” On Tuesday, the Aegis destroyer USS Lassen entered within 12 nautical miles of Subi Reef, an undersea cliff in the South China Sea, which Beijing turned into an artificial island. The destroyer was reportedly traveling with a Navy surveillance airplane near the contested Spratly Islands. China views the man-made creation as part of its territory and claims territorial sovereignty over the waters surrounding it.

Addressing the issue of US intrusion on Thursday in a video teleconference, Admiral Wu Shengli warned the chief of US naval operations Admiral John Richardson to refrain from further “provocative acts”. “If the United States continues with these kinds of dangerous, provocative acts, there could well be a seriously pressing situation between frontline forces from both sides on the sea and in the air, or even a minor incident that sparks war,” Wu said, according to a Chinese naval statement. FULL REPORT