WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Two U.S. Navy warships sailed near South China Sea islands claimed by China on Sunday, two U.S. officials told Reuters, in a move likely to anger Beijing as President Donald Trump seeks its continued cooperation on North Korea.

The operation was the latest attempt to counter what Washington sees as Beijing’s efforts to limit freedom of navigation in the strategic waters.

While this operation had been planned months in advance, and similar operations have become routine, it comes at a particularly sensitive time and just days after the Pentagon uninvited China from a major U.S.-hosted naval drill.

The U.S. officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the Higgins guided-missile destroyer and the Antietam, a guided-missile cruiser, came within 12 nautical miles of the Paracel Islands, among a string of islets, reefs and shoals over which China has territorial disputes with its neighbors.

The U.S. military vessels carried out maneuvering operations near Tree, Lincoln, Triton and Woody islands in the Paracels, one of the officials said.

Trump’s cancellation of a summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has put further strain on U.S.-China ties amid a trade dispute between the world’s two largest economies.

Critics of the operations, known as a “freedom of navigation,” have said that they have little impact on Chinese behavior and are largely symbolic.

The U.S. military has a long-standing position that its operations are carried out throughout the world, including in areas claimed by allies, and that they are separate from political considerations.

Satellite photographs taken on May 12 showed China appeared to have deployed truck-mounted surface-to-air missiles or anti-ship cruise missiles at Woody Island.

Earlier this month, China’s air force landed bombers on disputed islands and reefs in the SouthChina Sea as part of a training exercise in the region, triggering concern from Vietnam and the Philippines.

The U.S. military did not directly comment on Sunday’s operation, but said U.S. forces operate in the region on a daily basis.

“We conduct routine and regular Freedom of Navigation Operations (FONOPs), as we have done in the past and will continue to do in the future,” U.S. Pacific Fleet said in a statement.

Neither China’s foreign nor defense ministries immediately responded to a request for comment.

Getty Images
Tree Island is one of the main islands of the Paracel Islands group in the South China Sea.

CONTESTED SEA

Pentagon officials have long complained that China has not been candid enough about its rapid military build-up and using South China Sea islands to gather intelligence in the region.

In March, a U.S. Navy destroyer carried out a “freedom of navigation” operation close to Mischief Reef in the Spratly Islands.

Chinese officials have accused Washington of viewing their country in suspicious, “Cold War” terms.

China’s claims in the South China Sea, through which about $5 trillion in ship-borne trade passes each year, are contested by Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam.

The United States has said it would like to see more international participation in freedom-of-navigation operations in the South China Sea.

(Editing by Alexander Smith and Alexandra Hudson)

50 COMMENTS

  1. Hi! Do you know if they make any plugins to help with SEO?
    I’m trying to get my blog to rank for some targeted keywords but I’m not seeing
    very good gains. If you know of any please share. Thank you!

  2. I’m not that much of a internet reader to be honest but your sites really nice,
    keep it up! I’ll go ahead and bookmark your website
    to come back later on. Cheers

  3. Today, I went to the beach front with my children. I found a sea
    shell and gave it to my 4 year old daughter and said “You can hear the ocean if you put this to your ear.” She placed the shell to her ear and screamed.

    There was a hermit crab inside and it pinched her ear. She never
    wants to go back! LoL I know this is completely off topic but I had to tell someone!

  4. I seriously love your website.. Excellent colors & theme.
    Did you develop this website yourself? Please reply back as
    I’m attempting to create my own site and would like to know where you
    got this from or exactly what the theme is named. Cheers!

  5. Now i’m left without words. This is often a outstanding weblog and incredibly alluring also. Good perform! Which is no longer in point of fact a whole lot originating from an beginner publisher like me, but it surely’s almost all I could simply say after snorkeling into your posts. Fantastic grammar and also language. No longer such as different sites. You the truth is know very well what you?re talking around as well. A lot that you just helped me want to investigate much more. The weblog offers turn out to be any stepping-stone personally, my pal.

  6. [url=http://amoxicillin911.com/]order amoxicillin[/url] [url=http://buyrobaxinonline.com/]robaxin iv[/url] [url=http://buydoxycyclinewithoutprescription.com/]where to buy doxycycline[/url] [url=http://zithromax500.com/]zithromax 500[/url] [url=http://cialis3.com/]cialis erection[/url]

  7. You can definitely see your skills in the work you write. The world hopes for even more passionate writers like you who are not afraid to say how they believe. Always go after your heart.

  8. Can I simply just say what a comfort to uncover a person that actually understands what they
    are talking about on the web. You definitely know how to bring an issue to light and make it important.
    More and more people must read this and understand this
    side of your story. It’s surprising you are not more popular
    given that you surely possess the gift.

  9. yug [url=https://usaonlinecasinogames.us.org/]casino online[/url] [url=https://onlinecasinowin.us.org/]free casino[/url] [url=https://online-casinos.us.org/]casino online[/url] [url=https://casinoslots2019.us.org/]play casino[/url] [url=https://onlinecasinoslotsy.us.org/]online casino games[/url]

  10. Wow, that’s what I was searching for, what a data!
    present here at this weblog, thanks admin of this web site.

  11. I was curious if you ever considered changing the layout of your blog? Its very well written; I love what youve got to say. But maybe you could a little more in the way of content so people could connect with it better. Youve got an awful lot of text for only having 1 or 2 images. Maybe you could space it out better?

  12. You could definitely see your skills in the work you write. The world hopes for more passionate writers like you who are not afraid to say how they believe. Always go after your heart.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here