U.S. Pacific Command (PACOM) is gearing up for more regular naval patrols in the South China Sea, a move that is likely to further complicate relations between the U.S. and China.
The Wall Street Journal reported Friday that the Pentagon has set a schedule for freedom of navigation operations to challenge Chinese maritime claims in the sea.
PACOM is planning to conduct two or three patrols over the next few months, according to the Journal.
In the past, such operations, referred to as “fonops” in the military, have been conducted more sporadically, and have faced accusations by China of being provocations by the U.S.
By establishing a more regular regime of patrols in the sea, U.S. officials are hoping to dull China’s claims that operations are destabilizing, according to the Journal.
Since President Trump took office in January, he U.S. has conducted three “fonops” in the South China Sea, compared to four across former President Barack Obama’s two terms in office.