15:43 GMT21 January 2021
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    A week after Washington sent a warship near artificial islands in the South China Sea, an American defense official said the US Navy plans to continue to conduct patrols in the disputed waters.

    Last week, the USS Lassen, a missile destroyer, sailed within 12 nautical miles of artificial islands in the South China Sea in a direct challenge to China's territorial claims.

    A US defense official on Monday told Reuters that the Navy will conduct similar patrols in the region "about twice a quarter or a little more than that."

    "That's the right amount to make it regular but not a constant poke in the eye. It meets the intent to regularly exercise our rights under international law and remind the Chinese and others about our view."

    Washington does not recognize China's claims to almost all of the South China Sea, which is home to major shipping routes. The Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan also have overlapping claims.

    The United States said last week's patrol near the Chinese islands was a freedom-of-navigation mission conducted in accordance with international law.

    China's naval commander last week warned his American counterpart that a minor incident could spark war in the South China Sea if the United States did not stop its "provocative acts" in the disputed waterway, Reuters reports.

    disputed waters, territorial claims, USS Lassen, US Navy, Spratly archipelago, China, US, South China Sea
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