The US Navy plans to conduct patrols within 12 nautical miles of artificial islands in the South China Sea at least twice per quarter, Reuters reported, citing an unidentified American defense official.
The patrols are aimed at reminding China and other countries about Washington’s rights under international law, the official was quoted as saying Monday.
“We’re going to come down to about twice a quarter or a little more than that,” said the official.
“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.”
US Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes, meanwhile, also said Monday that there would be more demonstrations of the US military’s commitment to the right to freely navigate in the region.
“That’s our interest there … It’s to demonstrate that we will uphold the principle of freedom of navigation,” Rhodes was quoted as saying at a media forum.
His comments came a week after a US guided-missile destroyer sailed close to one of Beijing’s man-made islands in the South China Sea.
China’s naval commander last week warned that a minor incident could spark war in the South China Sea if America does not stop its “provocative acts” in the disputed waterway.
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