Two U.S. guided missile destroyers sailed close to disputed islands claimed by China within the South China Sea on Monday, the U.S. Navy stated in an announcement.
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The usPreble and USS Chung Hoon traveled inside 12 nautical miles of the Gaven and Johnson Reefs in what the Navy calls a freedom of navigation operation “so as to problem extreme maritime claims and protect entry to the waterways as ruled by worldwide regulation,” stated Seventh Fleet spokesperson Cmdr. Clay Doss.
The operation comes amid heightened tensions between the U.S. and China over a potential commerce deal. In keeping with Reuters, which was first to report the passage, the Chinese language overseas ministry responded by saying the U.S. ships entered the world with out permission and have been informed to go away.
Whereas the Navy carries out freedom of navigation operations world wide, those directed at claims made by China draw probably the most consideration with the final transit by means of the South China Sea occuring in February. By crusing inside the worldwide territorial restrict of 12 nautical miles, the operations stress that the waters off the bogus islands are worldwide waters.
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China is one in every of a number of nations that declare reefs and islets within the South China Sea, however lately has militarized island chains. In 2018, China positioned anti-ship cruise missiles and long-range surface-to-air missiles on the contested Spratly Islands, based on a current Pentagon report.
“All operations are designed in accordance with worldwide regulation and display that the US will fly, sail and function wherever worldwide regulation permits. That’s true within the South China Sea as in different places across the globe,” Doss stated, including that freedom of navigation operations are “not about anybody nation, nor are they about making political statements.”
ABC Information’ Luis Martinez contributed to this report.