SEVERE WX : Winter Weather Advisory View Alerts

US sails warships past disputed islands in South China Sea

The United States has sailed two warships past a handful of disputed islands in the South China Sea for the first tim...

Posted: May 28, 2018 4:46 PM
Updated: May 28, 2018 4:46 PM

The United States has sailed two warships past a handful of disputed islands in the South China Sea for the first time, a move that drew the ire of Beijing.

A US official told CNN that the guided-missile destroyer USS Higgins and the cruiser USS Antietam sailed within 12 miles of four of the Paracel Islands in its what the US Navy calls a "freedom of navigation operation" (FONOP), which are meant to enforce the right of free passage in international waters.

The US Navy operation occurred Sunday, according to Reuters, which first reported it.

Ian Storey, senior fellow at the ISEAS Yusof Ishak Institute, told CNN it was the first time under the Obama and Trump administrations that more than one US ship had been involved in such an operation.

"It appears that the US it pursuing a harder line against China in the South China Sea ... Of course whether these will actually have any impact on China's behavior is unclear," he said.

China's Foreign and Defense ministries accused the Washington of encroaching on Beijing's territory by sailing past the islands. A statement from ministry spokesman Lu Kang called on the US to "immediately stop such provocative actions that encroach upon China's sovereignty and threaten China's security."

One of the islands involved in the FONOP was Woody island, believed to have been used for military drills that involved Chinese nuclear-capable bombers earlier this month.

But despite the recent news, Storey said it was more likely the FONOP had been planned months in advance as a show of support for US allies ahead of Defense Secretary James Mattis' visit to Singapore in the coming week. Mattis will be in Singapore for the 2018 Shangri-La Dialogue, an annual meeting of the world's top defense analysts and government ministers.

"He could point to the FONOPS in the Paracels around five days earlier and say, 'We're protecting freedom of navigation in the South China Sea like we do around the world'," he said.

Missiles, radar in South China Sea

In recent years, the Chinese government has built a number of artificial islands in the South China Sea with military installations, including radars facilities and airstrips.

US intelligence in early May said there was a high likelihood Beijing had deployed anti-ship and anti-aircraft missiles to three of their artificial islands as part of large-scale military drills.

As part of the US government's new tough line in the South China Sea, it uninvited the Chinese military on May 23rd from the biannual RIMPAC naval drills, saying Beijing's behavior was "inconsistent" with the spirit of the exercises.

It drew a stern response from the Chinese government, who said the US decision was "non-constructive."

Beijing says much of the South China Sea is its sovereign territory, claims most of the internationally community view as spurious.

Vietnam, the Philippines, Taiwan, Indonesia, Malaysia and Brunei also claim islands parts of the South China Sea.

An international court ruled in 2016 that most of Beijing's claims in the South China Sea were illegal, but that decision has not significantly affected the status quo on the ground.

Washington says it engages in freedom of navigation operations to enforce the right of free passage in contested waters.

US hawks take control

The latest series of operations and exercises comes amid a reorganization of the top military brass in the United States Pacific Command.

Adm. Philip Davidson, who has been nominated to take over from Adm. Harry Harris as the head of Pacific Command, told US lawmakers in a submission in April that China could now control the South China Sea in all scenarios "short of war."

"To ensure stability, US operations in the South China Sea must remain regular and routine. In my view, any decrease in air or maritime presence would likely reinvigorate PRC expansion," Davidson's written answers said.

When Davidson faced US senators during a confirmation hearing with the Armed Services Committee on April 17, he said it was "incredibly important" the American government came together to deal with China.

"I intend to work closely with the State Department," the admiral said.

At the US Navy Pacific Fleet's change of command ceremony in Hawaii in mid-May, outgoing commander Adm. Scott Swift called what is happening in the South China Sea an example of "using might to make it right ... a creeping genesis of a new rules-based order formed on the basis of military power, not international consensus."

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 124439

Reported Deaths: 2292
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hennepin32336965
Ramsey13342347
Dakota9251133
Anoka8093148
Stearns537035
Washington525967
Scott318534
Olmsted307029
St. Louis264763
Wright227614
Nobles214016
Clay203243
Blue Earth19707
Carver16957
Rice15789
Sherburne156221
Kandiyohi15494
Mower148912
Winona118918
Lyon9256
Waseca9129
Crow Wing87921
Chisago8552
Benton8415
Beltrami7687
Otter Tail7436
Todd7232
Steele7212
Itasca67617
Nicollet67317
Freeborn6324
Morrison6076
Douglas6043
Martin58616
Le Sueur5855
McLeod5703
Watonwan5674
Goodhue51111
Pine5090
Polk4924
Becker4893
Isanti4873
Chippewa3793
Carlton3781
Dodge3620
Mille Lacs3528
Pipestone32616
Wabasha3230
Cass3115
Hubbard3092
Meeker3073
Brown2983
Rock2971
Unassigned26553
Yellow Medicine2655
Cottonwood2620
Redwood25011
Murray2483
Fillmore2380
Sibley2383
Renville22911
Faribault2090
Jackson1951
Roseau1930
Swift1921
Wadena1880
Kanabec18610
Houston1811
Stevens1681
Lincoln1650
Pennington1631
Koochiching1624
Aitkin1542
Pope1480
Big Stone1270
Wilkin1244
Lac qui Parle1232
Lake1030
Mahnomen941
Norman940
Grant894
Marshall871
Clearwater760
Red Lake602
Traverse530
Lake of the Woods421
Kittson270
Cook110

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 107481

Reported Deaths: 1537
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Polk17984282
Woodbury682088
Johnson563830
Black Hawk519196
Linn5047126
Dubuque467952
Scott404134
Story385317
Dallas329143
Pottawattamie295644
Sioux229712
Buena Vista220012
Marshall192636
Webster170014
Plymouth153925
Wapello147162
Clinton135525
Muscatine133958
Crawford130912
Cerro Gordo124923
Des Moines12139
Warren11496
Carroll10288
Jasper102034
Henry9785
Marion92410
Tama90037
Lee8719
Wright6871
Dickinson6847
Delaware6798
Boone6778
Mahaska61422
Bremer6128
Washington61011
Harrison5768
Jackson5283
Lyon5147
Benton5031
Louisa49115
Clay4844
Hamilton4433
Winnebago43716
Winneshiek4339
Hardin4285
Poweshiek42811
Kossuth4220
Floyd41511
Jones4113
Emmet39914
Buchanan3933
Cedar3855
Iowa3776
Franklin37318
Guthrie36914
Cherokee3652
Sac3643
Clayton3503
Page3470
Butler3442
Shelby3441
Madison3432
Fayette3412
Mills3361
Allamakee3278
Chickasaw3221
Clarke3123
Cass3052
Humboldt2913
Palo Alto2861
Hancock2814
Grundy2804
Calhoun2644
Osceola2480
Howard2479
Monroe23811
Mitchell2300
Monona2281
Taylor2202
Pocahontas2092
Union2094
Appanoose2013
Jefferson1901
Lucas1866
Fremont1781
Ida1772
Greene1730
Van Buren1572
Davis1554
Montgomery1555
Keokuk1401
Adair1331
Audubon1291
Decatur1290
Worth1270
Wayne1123
Ringgold822
Adams670
Unassigned190
Rochester
Overcast
31° wxIcon
Hi: 33° Lo: 30°
Feels Like: 23°
Mason City
Overcast
40° wxIcon
Hi: 40° Lo: 32°
Feels Like: 34°
Albert Lea
Overcast
36° wxIcon
Hi: 36° Lo: 31°
Feels Like: 36°
Austin
Overcast
36° wxIcon
Hi: 38° Lo: 31°
Feels Like: 36°
Charles City
Overcast
41° wxIcon
Hi: 43° Lo: 32°
Feels Like: 36°
Temps will rise before the weekend
KIMT Radar
KIMT Eye in the sky

Latest Video

Image

Partnership helps feed Minnesotans

Image

Covid-19 more deadly for cancer and heart patients

Image

Nursing students run a pop-up vaccine clinic

Image

Political rivals discuss bipartisanship

Image

Sara's Evening Forecast - Tuesday

Image

Bullying Prevention Month

Image

Mother speaks out after child's death

Image

Bus Safety Week

Image

Program Helps Victims Become Survivors

Image

New Debate Rules

Community Events