Fri, Aug 11, 2017 - Page 6 News List

US destroyer challenges China’s maritime claims

Reuters, WASHINGTON

A US Navy destroyer yesterday carried out a “freedom of navigation operation,” sailing within 12 nautical miles (22.2km) of an artificial island built up by China in the South China Sea, US officials told reporters.

The operation came as US President Donald Trump’s administration seeks Chinese cooperation in dealing with North Korea’s missile and nuclear programs and could complicate efforts to secure a common stance.

The officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that the USS John S. McCain sailed close to Mischief Reef (Meiji Reef, 美濟礁) in the Spratly Islands (Nansha Islands, 南沙群島).

China has territorial disputes with its neighbors, including Taiwan, over the area.

It was the third “freedom of navigation operation” or “fonop” conducted during Trump’s presidency.

Neither the Chinese Ministry of Defence nor the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs immediately responded to a request for comment.

The Trump administration has vowed to conduct more robust South China Sea operations.

Experts and officials have criticized former US president Barack Obama for potentially reinforcing China’s claims by sticking to “innocent passage.”

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