A US warship has sailed near a Chinese-built artificial island in the South China Sea, challenging Beijing, which claims the territory.
The USS Dewey warship passed within 12 nautical miles of the artificial atoll, us media quoted unnamed sources as saying. The United States has challenged Beijing in the South China Sea for the first time since Donald Trump became president.
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China claims much of the region, including corals and islands. The region also has coasts in the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Indonesia.
The United States maintains that it can continue its operations in international waters. Washington says it is not a party to the territorial waters dispute, but has sent warships to disputed islands claimed by other countries in the past. The United States aims to provide access to transport lines and airlines through what it calls ‘freedom of navigation’ operations.
Washington also criticized Beijing for restricting freedom of navigation in strategic waters. China’s creation of corals and artificial islets in the South China Sea and its deployment of troops to some islets have caused tensions in the region. The US and China have accused each other of ‘militarising’ the South China Sea.
The Trump administration wants to cooperate with China against north Korea’s nuclear threat.
The passage of the US warship near China’s artificial island is said to have caused tensions in relations between the two countries.