In a patrol directly sanctioned by the White House, the USS Lassen passed within 12 natutical miles of Subi Reef in the Spratly Islands archipelago, a group of hundreds of islands that China claims to own, yet do not.
This patrol caused China to send warnings to the ship and monitor it throughout its passage. It also lead to a fiery condemnation from China:
“The actions of the U.S. warship have threatened China’s sovereignty and security interests, jeopardized the safety of personnel and facilities on the reefs, and damaged regional peace and stability. The Chinese side expresses its strong dissatisfaction and resolute opposition.”
The Philippines who also claim these island praised the patrol for restoring a balance of power.
Numerous countries claim parts or all of the South China Sea, a valuable shipping lane with rich fishing and precious minerals beneath the surface. China has continued building artificial islands and filling in reefs to expand their military presence. Thus sounding warning sirens in the region.
From Fox News:
China’s Foreign Ministry reacted angrily Tuesday after a U.S. Navy ship passed within 12 nautical miles of disputed islands in the South China Sea late Monday in an apparent challenge to Beijing’s territorial claims in the region.
The ministry said that authorities monitored and warned the guided missile destroyer USS Lassen as it moved inside what China claims as a 12-mile territorial limit around Subi Reef in the Spratly Islands archipelago, a disputed group of hundreds of reefs, islets, atolls and islands in the South China Sea that is also claimed by the Philippines.
A defense official told the Associated Press the patrol was approved by the White House and took place without incident. Defense Secretary Ash Carter also acknowledged at a Senate committee hearing Tuesday that the U.S. has conducted naval operations in the region “in recent days.”
Will this buildup in the South China Sea lead to war in the region? Let us know what you think in the comments below!