Two U.S. Navy warships sailed near disputed islands in the South China Sea to challenge China’s claims on the areas on Nov. 20 and 21.
The USS Gabrielle Giffords (LCS-10), an Independence-class littoral combat ship, sailed within 12 miles of Mischief Reef in the Spratlys on Wednesday while the USS Wayne E. Meyer (DDG-108), an Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer, sailed near the Paracel Islands on Thursday.
“These missions are based in the rule of law and demonstrate our commitment to upholding the rights, freedoms, and lawful uses of the sea and airspace guaranteed to all nations”, said Commander Reann Mommsen, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Navy’s 7th Fleet.
The transit angered China with a senior military official urging the U.S. to stop “such provocative acts and avoid unexpected incidents”.
“The Chinese PLA sent ships and aircraft to conduct the whole-process monitoring and verification on the two US warships and warned them to leave”, according to Senior Colonel Li Huamin, spokesperson for the Southern Theater Command of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA).