A US warship sailed through the South China Sea earlier today to challenge China’s “excessive maritime challenge”, officials have confirmed.
Guided-missile destroyer USS McCampbell patrolled near the Parcel Islands challenging China’s claim to the region. The Parcel Islands have been controlled by China since its forces seized them from Vietnam in 1974. Both Vietnam and Taiwan maintain rival claims to the islands.
The USS McCampbell sailed within 12 miles of the islands of Tree, Lincoln and Woods in a so called ‘freedom of navigation operation’.
US Pacific Fleet spokeswoman Rachel McMarr said the visit was intended to “preserve access to the waterways as governed by international law”.
China has significantly upgraded its military presence in the Parcel Islands over the past few years.
Recent satellite images showed jet fighters had been stationed on at least one of the islands.
China controversially claims sovereignty over the entire South China Sea.
However this clashes with rival claims from Taiwan, Malaysia, Vietnam, Brunei and the Philippines.