Naval destroyer sailed through South China Sea to ensure freedom of navigation: US

China’s tightening control over the South China Sea is worrying for a number of regional countries. Photograph:( Others )

WION Web Team Washington, DC, USA Jan 07, 2019, 12.10 PM (IST)

The Trump administration said today that a naval destroyer sailed in South China Sea to challenge what it claimed "excessive maritime claims".

China claims islands on the South China sea even though Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Taiwan have repeatedly said it belongs to them.

The USS McCampbell carried out a "freedom of navigation" operation, sailing within 12 nautical miles of the Paracel Island chain, "to challenge excessive maritime claims", Pacific Fleet spokeswoman Rachel McMarr said.

The destroyer sailed near the disputed Paracel Islands in the South China Sea which is claimed by China.

The operation was not about any one country or to make a political statement, McMarr added. 

US vice-president Mike Pence had said earlier that South China Sea does not belong to any one nation and the United States will continue to sail and fly wherever international law allows

China had said last year that it was in talks on conducting a code of conduct doctrine with other nations in the disputed South China Sea which was agreed upon at the  10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

China said the consultation and final agreement process would take three years.

The US had said it is against "militarisation of the South China Sea. The US had earlier sent a naval destroyer USS Decatur near the disputed islands, a move which was condemned by China.

China's foreign ministry has of claimed "irrefutable sovereignty" over the South China Sea islands and the waters around them. Three years ago the international court in The Hague had ruled that China does not have legal rights to several islands in the South China Sea.

The Chinese president Xi Jinping had rejected the international court's verdict bluntly declaring that the country wouldn't accept "any claim or action based on those awards". China's ambassador to the US, Cui Tiankai, had said the tribunal lacked "professional incompetence" and had "questionable integrity".

In September last year, the US had flown B-52 bombers over the South China Sea and the East China Sea which was described as "provocative" by the Chinese defence ministry.