US Warship Sails Near Disputed Island in S China Sea Escalating Tensions

© Flickr / U.S. Pacific FleetLittoral combat ship USS conducts routine patrols in international waters of the South China Sea
Littoral combat ship USS conducts routine patrols in international waters of the South China Sea - Sputnik International
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The USS Curtis Wilbur destroyer has sailed within 12 nautical miles of Triton Island, an island claimed by China in the Parcel Islands chain in the South China Sea.

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According to an unnamed Pentagon official, a US Navy destroyer approached the island in an operation aimed at the protection of freedom of navigation in the South China Sea, The Wall Street Journal reported.

The “operation for the defense of freedom of navigation” is a series of maneuvers by the US Navy warships against ‘excessive’ maritime claims, according to Washington.

The US Navy sent the Curtis Wilbur on patrol, without telling anyone about the beginning of the operation, the publication added.

According to the official, the patrols lasted for about three hours; no Chinese Navy ships in the area were reported.

In October 2015 the United States sent a destroyer to the South China Sea near the disputed Nansha Islands (Spratly), which China considers its own. China's Foreign Ministry protested to the United States, saying that these actions violated the sovereignty of China.

The US said that it will continue to sail everywhere international law permits. Such a statement demonstrated that the US does not recognize China's sovereignty over the islands.

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Similarly, US Pacific Commander Harry Harris remarked that the United States will continue to challenge China's position in the South China Sea. He also said his personal view is that “those islands do not belong to China,” according to media reports.

Chinese defense ministry spokesperson said Thursday that China's sovereignty over the islands in the South China Sea and their adjacent waters have an adequate historical and legal basis.

“It is China's consistent position to resolve disputes with countries directly related through negotiations and consultations. Peace and stability in the South China Sea should be protected by China and ASEAN,” the publication China Daily reported.

“We do not need countries outside the region finger-pointing on this issue, let alone making any ignorant remarks,” Yang Yujun, the ministry's spokesperson said.

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