US destroyer sails near islands claimed by China

US destroyer sails near islands claimed by China
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A U.S. destroyer sailed near islands in the South China Sea on Sunday amid heightened tensions with Beijing.

“We conduct routine and regular freedom-of-navigation operations, as we have done in the past and will continue to do in the future,” the U.S. official told The Hill, explaining that the USS Decatur sailed within 12 nautical miles of Gaven and Johnson Reefs in the Spratly islands.

"U.S. Forces operate in the Indo-Pacific region on a daily basis, including the South China Sea," the official added. "All operations are designed in accordance with international law and demonstrate that the United States will fly, sail and operate wherever international law allows."

Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Dave Eastburn confirmed to The Hill Sunday, that the event did take place. 

 

 

 

The U.S. has previously ruffled China by projecting its military presence into contentions areas in the South China Sea and East China Sea. 

U.S. B-52 bombers flew over both last week, according to earlier statements from Eastburn.

The Hill could not reach the Pentagon for immediate comment on the reports, but the U.S. has previously ruffled China by projecting its military presence into contentions areas in the South China Sea and East China Sea. 

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U.S. B-52 bombers flew over both last week, according to Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Dave Eastburn.

China has not commented on the Sunday's movement, according to Reuters, but has denounced last week's flyover.

"Regarding the provocative actions of US military aircraft in the South China Sea, we are always resolutely opposed to them, and will continue to take necessary measures in order to strongly handle (this issue)," Chinese defense ministry spokesmen Ren Guoqiang said last Thursday, AFP reports.

China made similar comments when American bombers flew over the region in April.

The latest U.S. military maneuvers come amid a continuing trade war between the two nations and on the heels of a contentious U.N. General Assembly meeting. 

During the course of the meetings, Trump accused China of trying to interfere in the upcoming 2018 midterms, something China denied.

Earlier last week, China also announced that it was working with Russia and the European Union to undercut U.S. sanctions against Iran.