A guided-missile destroyer performed a freedom of navigation operation within the South China Sea Tuesday within the newest message from the U.S. to Beijing over its disputed territory within the Spratly Islands.
An official advised Fox Information the usJohn S. McCain sailed by Gaven Reef and Johnson South Reef, which have each been claimed by China and fortified with weapons in recent times.
“This freedom of navigation operation (“FONOP”) upheld the rights, freedoms, and lawful makes use of of the ocean acknowledged in worldwide legislation by difficult restrictions on harmless passage imposed by China, Vietnam, and Taiwan,” the seventh Fleet Public Affairs wrote in a press release. “All interactions with international army forces had been in line with worldwide norms and didn’t affect the operation.”
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China is one in every of six nations — together with the Philippines, Vietnam, and Taiwan — that assert sovereignty over all or elements of the disputed archipelago. China, Vietnam, and Taiwan require “both permission or advance notification” when Navy vessels go by way of the realm.
“Illegal and sweeping maritime claims within the South China Sea pose a severe menace to the liberty of the seas, together with the freedoms of navigation and overflight, free commerce and unimpeded commerce, and freedom of financial alternative for South China Sea littoral nations,” the assertion mentioned.
“By partaking in harmless passage with out giving prior notification to or asking permission from any of the claimants, the US challenged the illegal restrictions imposed by China, Taiwan, and Vietnam,” it continued. “The USA demonstrated that harmless passage will not be topic to such restrictions.”
The Gaven Reef and Johnson South Reef do not have runways and hangers like a few of China’s different contested reefs within the Spratly Islands. The U.S. warship additionally sailed previous Vietnamese claimed Collins Reef.
A Chinese language warship shadowed McCain through the operation, however all interactions had been deemed “protected ,” an official advised Fox Information.
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Final month, the McCain was despatched out to problem Russia’s “extreme” maritime claims within the Western Pacific, officers mentioned. The destroyer “asserted navigational rights and freedoms” by way of a freedom of navigation operation close to the Peter the Nice Bay within the Sea of Japan, a seventh Fleet assertion mentioned.
The U.S. has beforehand carried out comparable operations close to China, which continues to claim expansive territorial claims. The Navy typically sends warships by way of the strategic South China Sea.
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“So long as some international locations proceed to claim maritime claims which can be inconsistent with worldwide legislation as mirrored within the 1982 Regulation of the Sea Conference and that purport to limit unlawfully the rights and freedoms assured to all States, the US will proceed to defend these rights and freedoms,” the Navy mentioned.
Fox Information’ Lucas Tomlinson and Stephen Sorace contributed to this report