China showed no signs of backing down from building infrastructures and dredging projects over the disputed South China Sea, claiming ownership of the island. U.S. had enough of China’s hardheadedness and sent USS Lasses, a guided-missile destroyer within 12 nautical miles of artificial islands built by China.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, a US Navy insider told Reuters that the guided-missile destroyer has started sailing near Subi and Mischief reefs in the Spratly’s. “The operation has begun … It will be complete within a few hours,” the official said. The decision was lauded by U.S. Congressman Randy Forces, saying:”The passage of U.S. vessels within 12 nautical miles of China’s man-made features in the South China Sea is a necessary and overdue response to China’s destabilizing behavior in the region.”
Speaking at a press conference on Monday, US State Department John Kirby refused to comment on the information coming from the said unnamed official. He however stressed that whatever U.S. is doing over the South China Sea is within the bounds of international law.
“This idea of what we call freedom of navigation operations, it’s routine. As a former naval officer, I can tell you I did it many, many times myself. It’s one of the reasons you have a navy, to be able to exert influence and to defend freedom of navigation on – in international waters,” Kirby told press.
Kirby emphasized on the fact that the government need not consult with the Chinese government in order to conduct such activities. “This is a military matter. You don’t need to consult with any nation when you are exercising the right of freedom of navigation in international waters. The whole point of freedom of navigation in international waters is that it’s international waters, and you don’t need to consult with anybody to do that. That’s the idea.”