A U.S. warship sailed within 12 miles of one of China’s many “artificial” islands in the South China Sea, a bold move meant to challenge China’s territorial claims in the region.
President Trump’s Defense Department has made the “boldest U.S. challenge yet to Chinese island-building” in the South China Sea, according to reports this week.
Reuters reported on Friday:
A U.S. warship carried out a “maneuvering drill” when it sailed within 12 nautical miles of an artificial island built up by China in the South China Sea, to show Beijing it was not entitled to a territorial sea around it, U.S. officials said on Thursday.
The operation near Mischief Reef on Thursday, Pacific time, among a string of islets, reefs and shoals over which China has disputes with its neighbors, was the boldest U.S. challenge yet to Chinese island-building in the strategic waterway.
According to the BBC, the South China Sea is controversial because “[r]ival countries,” including “China, Vietnam, the Philippines, Taiwan, Malaysia and Brunei” have “wrangled over territory … for centuries.” China is building artificial islands in the sea, many of which allegedly are ‘militarized.’
The U.S. warship’s drill showed a bolder stance on China’s South China Sea claims from the new administration, according to Reuters:
The Trump administration vowed to conduct more robust South China Sea operations after President Barack Obama was criticized for potentially reinforcing China’s claims by sticking to innocent passage.
Trump’s new ambassador to China, ex-Gov. Terry Branstad (R-IA), was confirmed to his post by the U.S. Senate on Monday.
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