A US Navy warship sailed near the disputed Scarborough Shoal in the South China Sea on Sunday, prompting Beijing to reiterate a call on Washington to halt “such provocative actions”.
The US destroyer Preble carried out the operation, a US military spokesman told Reuters.
“Preble sailed within 12 nautical miles of Scarborough Reef in order to challenge excessive maritime claims and preserve access to the waterways as governed by international law,” a spokesman for the US Seventh Fleet was quoted as saying.
It was the second such US military operation in the South China Sea in the last month, and marked the latest attempt to counter what Washington sees as Beijing’s efforts to limit freedom of navigation in the strategic waters.
China’s Foreign Ministry said on Monday that it “strongly urges US to stop such provocative actions.”
China claims almost all of the strategic South China Sea and frequently lambasts the US and its allies over naval operations near Chinese-occupied islands.
Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam have competing claims in the region.
China and the US have repeatedly traded barbs in the past over what Washington says is Beijing’s militarization of the South China Sea by building military installations on artificial islands and reefs.
China defends its construction as necessary for self-defense and says the US is responsible for ratcheting up tension in the region by sending warships and military planes close to islands Beijing claims.
– Contact us at [email protected]