In this June 4, 2010, file photo, the USS Curtis Wilbur arrives at a naval base in Busan, South Korea, for South Korea-U.S. joint drills. China strongly condemned the United States after the missile destroyer deliberately sailed near one of the Beijing-controlled islands in the hotly contested South China Sea to exercise freedom of navigation and challenge China’s vast territorial claims. AP
BEIJING, China — China strongly condemned the United States after a U.S. warship deliberately sailed near one of the Beijing-controlled islands in the hotly contested South China Sea to exercise freedom of navigation and challenge China’s vast territorial claims.
The missile destroyer USS Curtis Wilbur sailed within 12 nautical miles (22 kilometers) of Triton Island in the Paracel chain “to challenge excessive maritime claims of parties that claim the Paracel Islands,” without notifying the three claimants beforehand, Defense Department spokesman Mark Wright said Saturday in Washington.
China, Taiwan and Vietnam have overlapping claims in the Paracels and require prior notice from ships transiting what they consider their territorial waters. The latest operation was particularly aimed at China, which has increased tensions with the U.S. and its Southeast Asian neighbors by embarking on massive construction of man-made islands and airstrips in contested areas.
In October, another U.S. warship sailed in the nearby Spratly Islands near Subi Reef, where China has built one of seven artificial islands.
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