The Pentagon confirmed on Monday its plans to patrol the South China Sea amid rising tensions between
and . Beijing
The US Navy will take the aggressive action of sailing within 12 nautical miles of Chinese territory.
Last month, a number of Pentagon officials floated the idea of sending naval ships into the
South China Sea.
construction of artificial islands in the Spratly archipelago, the US Navy said
it would sail within the 12-mile territorial limit of those features. Beijing
will fly, sail, and operate wherever
international law allows," US Defense Secretary Ash Carter said in a news
conference last month. United
On Monday, a
defense official confirmed to Reuters that such a plan will, in fact, take
place – and soon. US
Within the next 24 hours, the USS Lassen destroyer will be sent to patrol Chinese territorial waters near the islands and could also patrol artificial islands built by other nations.
"This is something that will be a regular occurrence, not a one-off event," the official said. "It's not something that's unique to
According to the official, the ship will likely be accompanied by a P-8A, the Pentagon’s most advanced spy plane, which has already been operating in the region to monitor
’s construction progress. Beijing
"We will never allow any country to violate
China’s territorial waters and airspace in the , in the name of protecting
freedom of navigation and overflight, ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said
during a news briefing. Spratly Islands
With nearly USD5 trillion in trade passing through its waters annually, the
South China Sea is a
highly contested region.
claims most of the sea, there are overlapping claims from Vietnam, Brunei,
the Philippines, Malaysia, and . Taiwan
lays no claim in the region, it has criticized ’s land reclamation projects
as a breach of international law. China
"There are billions of dollars of commerce that float through that region of the world," White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters. "Ensuring the free flow of commerce…is critical to the global economy."
This isn’t the first time the
has sought to influence the
region through naval patrols. US
have also built islands atop reefs in the Spratly archipelago in the past, and
these too resulted in aggressive patrols by the US Navy. Philippines