Tensions Rise in the South China Sea

One country’s patrol is another’s provocation. Chinese state-run media has reacted with outrage to a U.S. Navy destroyer sailing within the 12 nautical mile claim Beijing asserts over five Chinese made, artificial islands.  On Monday, the U.S.S. Lassen, sailed off the coast of Subi Reef, where the Chinese People’s Liberation Army has built an island and maintains a military base, and to which the Philippines and Vietnam also claim sovereignty. China’s island building has caused serious tension with the nations that also claim territory in the South China Sea.

Republican Rep. J. Randy Forbes led a bipartisan group of 29 members of Congress in urging the Obama administration to conduct such a freedom of navigation operation in the South China Sea. Last week, Forbes told The Cipher Brief, “by restricting the U.S. Navy and Air Force from going within this limit, the United States is implicitly accepting China’s claims that these features are their sovereign territory that entitle them to the surrounding seas as their territorial waters and exclusive economic zone.” 

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