US warship challenges China in South China Sea after claims rejection - Business Insider
• A US Navy destroyer challenged China in the South China Sea with a freedom-of-navigation operation on Tuesday.
• The USS Ralph Johnson sailed near the disputed Spratly Islands, the Navy said, adding in a statement that "unlawful and sweeping maritime claims in the South China Sea pose a serious threat to the freedom of the seas."
• The operation, one of at least six such operations this year, comes after the US State Department officially rejected most of China's sea claims, declaring its maritime efforts to assert sovereignty unlawful.
After the US State Department declared Beijing's maritime claims in the South China Sea and efforts to assert dominance unlawful, the US Navy destroyer USS Ralph Johnson further challenged China with a sail-by operation.
The Navy released a couple photos on Tuesday of the destroyer sailing near the contested Spratly Islands, and a Navy spokesman confirmed the ship conducted a freedom-of-navigation operation in the area.
The USS Ralph Johnson conducting maritime security operations near the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea. U.S. Navy Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Anthony Collier
"This freedom of navigation operation upheld the rights, freedoms, and lawful uses of the sea recognized in international law by challenging the restrictions on innocent passage imposed by China, Vietnam and Taiwan," the Navy said in a statement.
"Unlawful and sweeping maritime claims in the South China Sea pose a serious threat to the freedom of the seas," the military branch added.
"The United States upholds freedom of navigation as a principle ...
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