Warship USS Stethem challenges territorial claims in South China Sea ahead of Trump talks

A US warship has sailed near a disputed island in the South China Sea claimed by China, Taiwan and Vietnam in an operation intended to challenge the competing claims of all three nations, a US Defence Department official said.

Key points:

  • It is the second time the Trump administration has sent a warship into territorial waters
  • China has controlled the Pracels since 1974, which observers believe the US was defying
  • Mr Trump is due to meet with Chinese and Japanese leaders this week

The USS Stethem, a guided-missile destroyer, sailed within 12 nautical miles of Triton Island, part of the Paracel Islands in the South China Sea, the official said.

It was the second “freedom-of-navigation operation” (FONOP) conducted during the presidency of Donald Trump, following a drill in late May in which a US warship sailed within 12 nautical miles of an artificial island built up by China in the South China Sea.

Twelve nautical miles marks the territorial limits recognised internationally. Sailing within those 12 miles is meant to show that the United States does not recognise territorial claims there.

Source: Warship USS Stethem challenges territorial claims in South China Sea ahead of Trump talks – ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)