The Trump administration is stepping up pressure on China in a low-key campaign of increased naval activities aimed at undermining Beijing’s vast territorial claims over the South China Sea.
The US guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain on Aug. 10 sailed within 12 nautical miles of the disputed Mischief Reef – a key political battleground in the ongoing rivalry over whether the strategic waterway remains open international waters or becomes a Chinese lake.
The destroyer passage through the Spratlys Islands – China insists on calling them the Nansha Islands – is the third freedom of navigation operation conducted during the first seven months of the new US administration. It was the second passage near Mischief Reef since May and highlights what the Pentagon regards as one of the more strategic islands that China has been militarizing and potentially threatening American military ships and aircraft that eventually will be deployed to Philippines.
Read the entire article at Asia Times.