US sends two warships near S China Sea islands claimed by Beijing: Report
In a move that could annoy China, two warships of the US Navy sailed near the islands in South China Sea claimed by China on Sunday, May 27, Reuters added. Two US officials told Reuters about the development at a time when Washington is trying to take credit for the peace initiative in North Korea.
The report said the latest entry of the American warships was to counter what the US perceives as Beijing's attempt to limit freedom of navigation in the strategic region.
The US officials, refusing to identify themselves, said the two vessels - Higgings guided-missile destroyer and the Antietam guided-missile cruiser came within 12 nautical miles of the Paracel Islands, among a string of islets, reefs and other geographical features over which China has territorial brawl with its maritime neighbours, the Reuters report added.
The US warships' entry took place in the wake of Washington's withdrawal of an invitation to China to attend a major naval drill called Rim of the Pacific exercise or RIMPAC as a response to China's militarisation of islands in the South China Sea and Beijing regretted the move, saying shutting doors did not promote mutual trust and cooperation, Reuters reported on Thursday, May 24.
The US and China are already in the middle of a trade war and now, the fresh escalation of tension over the South China Sea is suspected to add more to it.
Satellite photographs taken on May 12 showed China appeared to have deployed truck-mounted surface-to-air missiles or anti-ship cruise missiles at Woody Island in South China Sea. Its air force also sent bombers on the disputed islands and reefs in the South China Sea as part of a training exercise, causing worry in the Philippines and Vietnam, the Reuters report added.