Another US warship sails through South China Sea in challenge to China’s territorial claims

A US Navy destroyer has once again sailed past Chinese-controlled islands in the South China Sea in the second challenge in two weeks to the territorial control Beijing claims in the area.

The US Navy’s 7th Fleet announced that USS Russell sailed past the Spratly Islands on Wednesday, as part of a ‘freedom of navigation operation’ that was aimed at “challenging unlawful restrictions on innocent passage imposed by China.”

This was the second challenge conducted in the region in the past two weeks by the Biden administration, with the USS Russell following a similar mission to the USS John S McCain’s actions near the Parcel Islands 12 days ago. America has also conducted drills in the South China Sea with the USS Theodore Roosevelt and the USS Nimitz.

China lays claim to the whole South China Sea, while Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan, and Vietnam also argue they have territorial rights over some parts of the area.

The Navy missions come after US President Joe Biden declared that America sees China as its “most serious competitor” and is in “extreme competition” with the Asian nation, seeing a number of issues that need to be resolved between the two sides.

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Beijing has opposed the presence of any American naval ships around the islands in the South China Sea, which it sees as its sovereign territory. China recently passed the Coast Guard Law that gives direct permission to its defense force to use all necessary means, including firing on them, to prevent any threat from a foreign vessel.

Following the last mission by the USS John S McCain, a People’s Liberation Army spokesperson declared that the warship had trespassed into its waters and Beijing’s military “warned it off.” In a statement directed at America, the PLA reminded the US Navy that they are ready to “safeguard China’s sovereignty and security,” including protecting the islands they’ve claimed control of.

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