Fiery Crossing in the South China Sea

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Fiery Cross Reef, a contested geographic feature in the South China Sea, is the latest site for the growing maritime tensions between China and the United States.

Early on Tuesday, the U.S.S. William P. Lawrence, an Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer, transited within 12 miles of the reef for what is now the third freedom of navigation operation (FONOPS) carried out by the U.S. Navy since Beijing began construction of artificial islands on several reefs and rocky outcrops in 2014. In response, China scrambled fighter jets and sent naval vessels to monitor the William P. Lawrence’s transit through Beijing’s claimed waters.

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