A U.S. destroyer reportedly put China's extensive claims to the South China Sea to the test October 10th.
The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Chafee challenged China's "excessive maritime claims" near the Paracel Islands by sailing close to but not within 12 nautical miles of the Chinese-occupied territories, Reuters introduced, citing multiple U.S. officials.
Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Dewey (DDG 105) transits the South China Sea before a replenishment-at-sea with fleet replenishment oiler USNS John Ericsson (T-AO-194) and Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Sterett (DDG 104). (U.S. Navy Photo By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Kryzentia Weiermann/ Released)
The Trump administration conducted two other freedom-of-navigation operations in May and August, challenging China's claims to the Spratly and Paracel Islands. The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Dewey sailed within 12 nautical miles of Mischief Reef in the Spratly Islands in May, and the USS John McCain followed suit a few months later.
The U.S. has also conducted bomber overflights in the South China Sea, putting additional pressure on China.
The latest operation comes at a time when President Donald Trump is urging China to rein in North Korea to ensure stability on the peninsula. While China calls for dialogue, the president has made it clear that now is not the time for talk.
Many in the Trump administration have acknowledged that while North Korea is a serious short-term threat, China remains the greatest challenge to U.S. hegemony in the world.