Within 24 hours the United States Navy will send a guided-missile destroyer near artificial islands built by China in the South China Sea, at the start of a series of challenges to China’s territorial claims in one of the world’s busiest sea lanes.
U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter defended Washington’s plans. He said at a news conference, “Make no mistake, the United States will fly, sail and operate, wherever the international law allows, as we do around the world, and the South China Sea will not be an exception.”
A previous report to send a Littoral type Combat Ships to challenge China’s sovereignty claim was halted and instead it was given to a more deadly and lethal ship, the Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer “USS Lassen” (DDG-82), as approved by US President Barack Obama.
According to a Reuters report, the mission would mark the most serious U.S. challenge yet to the 12-nautical-mile territorial limit China claims around the islands and are certain to anger Beijing, which said last month it would “never allow any country” to violate its territorial waters and airspace in the disputed region.
The ship would likely be accompanied by a U.S. Navy P-8A surveillance plane and possibly P-3 surveillance plane, which have been conducting regular surveillance missions in the region, according to the defense official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
The defense official said. “In a coming weeks additional patrols would follow and could also be conducted around features that Vietnam and the Philippines have built up in the Spratlys.”
“This is something that will be a regular occurrence, not a one-off event,” said the official. “It’s not something that’s unique to China.” Official added
Meanwhile, a warning from Chinese foreign ministry official Hua Chunying said, “We will never allow any country to violate China’s territorial waters and airspace in the Spratly Islands, in the name of protecting freedom of navigation and overflight.”
An editorial in the Global Times, which is close to China’s ruling Communist party, condemned US “coercion”, adding: “China mustn’t tolerate rampant US violations of China’s adjacent waters and the skies over those expanding islands.”
It said China’s military should “be ready to confront and launch countermeasures according to Washington’s level of provocation”.
Images used credited to indianaexpress.com, china.org.cn, and jeffhead.com
By: Jason E.