USA warship sails near disputed South China Sea island

by Garry Watts July 3, 2017, 0:56
USA warship sails near disputed South China Sea island

Disputed: Triton Island is located in the South China Sea and its ownership is disputed as it is claimed by China, Taiwan and Vietnam. Worth noting, 12 nautical miles is the territorial boundary that extends beyond the shores of all nations.

"While I greatly appreciate the efforts of President Xi & China to help with North Korea, it has not worked out".

WASHINGTON, D.C.: Three of Beijing's outposts on contested West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) reefs are close to being ready for the deployment of military assets including mobile missile launchers, a U.S. think tank reported Thursday.

And on Friday, in moves that the White House said were not aimed at Beijing, the Trump administration unveiled new sanctions against a Chinese bank linked to North Korea's nuclear weapons and missile programs, a day after announcing a new $1.4 billion arms sale to Taiwan. "All operations are conducted in accordance with worldwide law and demonstrate that the United States will fly, sail, and operate wherever global law allows", the department's representative said.

In the Paracel Island chain and in the Spratlys, China has built up a number of small islands into fully functional military facilities complete with airfields and antiaircraft defenses.

In February, 2017, China had 20 outposts in the Paracels. "China is using its military and economic power to erode the rules-based worldwide order", he said in a speech delivered on Wednesday in Brisbane during the joint US-Australian military exercises. The U.S. does not recognize Beijing's claim of sovereignty over the islands, which it has occupied and on which it has been building fortifications.

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As part of the exercise, the guided-missile destroyer USS Stethem came within 12 miles of Triton, sailing into what China claims to be its territorial waters. During then-Secretary of State nominee Rex Tillerson's confirmation hearing in front of the Senate Armed Forces Committee, he suggested that the USA should use military force to restrict China's access to the islands.

"U.S. forces operate in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region on a daily basis, including in the South China Sea". China has now built four additional shelters at Fiery Cross.

China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs termed the operation "trespassing" and said Beijing had dispatched military vessels and planes in response.

Sunday's operation marks the second freedom of navigation operation (FONOP) by the Trump administration since the late-May operation by USS Dewey near Mischief Reef, which is one of China's seven artificial islands in the Spratly Group.

It is expanding its already robust communications and radar capabilities on the three reefs, with "a very large antennae array" now being installed on the south side of Mischief Reef, "presumably boosting China's ability to monitor activity around the feature", the center said.

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