US conducts freedom of navigation operation in South China Sea
The US Navy says it asserted its “rights and freedoms of navigation in the South China Sea” by sailing one of its destroyers near the disputed Spratly Islands.
The 7th Fleet said Saturday’s Freedom of Navigation operation by the USS Benfold upholds “the rights, freedoms and legitimate uses of the sea recognized in international law by challenging the restrictions on innocent passage imposed by the Republic people of China, Vietnam and Taiwan.”
Several Asian nations have also declared overlapping claims to the South China Sea.
China claims it is not stopping the passage of ships and has accused the United States of causing trouble with such claims.
Freedom of navigation is considered essential for modern commerce as it is the means of transportation for billions of goods.
The Navy said in a statement, “The United States supports freedom of navigation for all nations as a principle.”
An international tribunal has invalidated China’s claims to the South China Sea, but that hasn’t stopped China from producing artificial islands in the waterway, with some of the man-made landscapes housing airports raising international concern over what what China intends to do with the islands.