WW3 News: CHINA & US Warship USS McCampbell DDG 85 have a close encounter in the South China Sea – Guided-missile destroyer USS McCampbell patrolled near the Parcel Islands challenging China’s claim to the region. The Parcel Islands have been controlled by China since its forces seized them from Vietnam in 1974. Both Vietnam and Taiwan maintain rival claims to the islands.
A US warship sailed through the South China Sea earlier today to challenge China’s “excessive maritime challenge”, officials have confirmed.
The USS McCampbell sailed within 12 miles of the islands of Tree, Lincoln and Woods in a so called ‘freedom of navigation operation’.
US Pacific Fleet spokeswoman Rachel McMarr said the visit was intended to “preserve access to the waterways as governed by international law”.
China has significantly upgraded its military presence in the Parcel Islands over the past few years.
Recent satellite images showed jet fighters had been stationed on at least one of the islands.
China controversially claims sovereignty over the entire South China Sea.
However this clashes with rival claims from Taiwan, Malaysia, Vietnam, Brunei and the Philippines.
The US, a treaty ally of the Philippines, disputes the Chinese claim.
Last September another American warship, the USS Decatur, conducted a patrol close to the Spratlys islands in the same region.
During a 10 hour patrol the ship travelled within 12 miles of two Chinese controlled reefs.
China has been fortifying and artificially expanding islands in the South China Sea, to create bases for troops, combat aircraft and naval assets.
The South China Sea is one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world.
Each year an estimate $5trillion (£3.9billion) of trade passes through the region.
In July 2016 a United Nations arbitration tribunal ruled against Beijing in a South China Sea dispute with the Philippines.
However China, as well as Taiwan, refused to recognise the tribunal and insisted the issue should be resolved via bilateral negotiations.