WASHINGTON - U.S. Navy warships, on two occasions in the past few days, have sailed near islands claimed by China in the South China Sea, the U.S. military told Reuters on Thursday, at a time of tension between the world’s two largest economies.
The busy waterway is one of a number of flashpoints in the U.S.-China relationship, which include a trade war, U.S. sanctions, Hong Kong and Taiwan.
Earlier this week during high-level talks, China called on the U.S. military to stop flexing its muscles in the South China Sea and adding “new uncertainties” over democratic Taiwan, which is claimed by China as a wayward province.
The U.S. Navy regularly vexes China by conducting what it calls “freedom of navigation” operations by ships close to some of the islands China occupies, asserting freedom of access to international waterways.
On Wednesday, the littoral combat ship Gabrielle Giffords traveled within 12 nautical miles of Mischief Reef, Commander Reann Mommsen, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Navy’s Seventh Fleet, told Reuters.
On Thursday, the destroyer Wayne E. Meyer challenged restrictions on innocent passage in the Paracel islands, Mommsen said.
“These missions are based in the rule of law and demonstrate our commitment to upholding the rights, freedoms, and lawful uses of the sea and airspace guaranteed to all nations,” she added. (end of excerpt)
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