A U.S. destroyer reportedly put China’s extensive claims to the South China Sea to the test Tuesday.
The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Chafee challenged China’s “excessive maritime claims” near the Paracel Islands by sailing close to but not within 12 nautical miles of the Chinese-occupied territories, Reuters introduced, citing multiple U.S. officials.
The Trump administration conducted two other freedom-of-navigation operations in May and August, challenging China’s claims to the Spratly and Paracel Islands. The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Dewey sailed within 12 nautical miles of Mischief Reef in the Spratly Islands in May, and the USS John McCain followed suit a few months later.
The U.S. has also conducted bomber overflights in the South China Sea, putting additional pressure on China.
The latest operation comes at a time when President Donald Trump is urging China to rein in North Korea to ensure stability on the peninsula. While China calls for dialogue, the president has made it clear that now is not the time for talk.
Many in the Trump administration have acknowledged that while North Korea is a serious short-term threat, China remains the greatest challenge to U.S. hegemony in the world.
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