Daily Management Review

U.S. mulls sailing near disputed South China Sea islands: Reports


To send a signal that it does not recognize Chinese territorial claims over the South China Sea area, the United States is considering sailing warships close to China’s artificial islands to the region, reported The Financial Times newspaper quoting a U.S. defense official on Thursday.
U.S. ships would sail within 12-nautical-mile zones, which China claims as territory around islands it has built in the Spratly chain, within the next two weeks, the newspaper reported citing a senior U.S. official as saying.
The action could take place "within days," but awaited final approval from the Obama administration, The Navy Times quoted U.S. officials as saying.
While referring to remarks in congressional testimony last month by U.S. Assistant Defense Secretary David Shear, that "all options are on the table", a  U.S. defense official declined to confirm that any decision had been made.
"We are looking at this," the official said, on condition of anonymity to the newspaper.
In reference too to China's South China Sea claims, U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter said last month that the United States would "fly, sail, and operate wherever international law allows, as U.S. forces do all over the world."
The White House declined to comment on potential classified naval operations.
According to the CNN last May, eight warnings to the crew of a U.S. P8-A Poseidon surveillance aircraft was issued by the Chinese navy when it conducted flights near China's artificial islands.
China was paying attention to the reports of impending U.S. naval action said the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying during a regular news briefing on Thursday.
She said that the United States have maintained “extremely thorough communication” on the South China Sea issue.
“I believe the U.S. side is extremely clear about China’s relevant principled stance. We hope the U.S. side can objectively and fairly view the current situation in the South China Sea, and with China, genuinely play a constructive role in safeguarding peace and stability in the South China Sea,” she said.
In September during the visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping, US President Barack Obama had Xi Jinping that the US had "significant concerns" about the islands.
China did not intend to militarize the islands, Xi had said at the time. However defense analysts in Washington were certain that China has already begun creating military facilities, and the only question is how much military hardware it will install.
China's development of the islands, including the building of runways suitable for military use, was of "great concern" and a threat to the region, said Admiral Harry Harris, commander of U.S. forces in the Pacific.
The United States should challenge China's claim to territory in the South China Sea by patrolling close to the artificial islands and was considering going within 12 miles of them, Harris said in congressional testimony on September 17.
The part of the South China Sea where the Spratly islands are located and the $5 trillion in ship-borne trade passes every year have been claimed by China. Similar claims have also been made by Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan.

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