A US Navy destroyer sailed within 12 miles of an artificial island built by China in the South China Sea on Thursday, a "provocation" that threatens another angry response from the Chinese government and further complicating President Donald Trump's efforts to align the Communist Party in his pursuit to find a diplomatic resolution to the North Korean crisis.
As Reuters reports, the USS John McCain (yes, he the Senator has a ship named after him) passed by the Mischief Reef in the Spratly Islands in what US military officials justified as yet anoter "freedom of navigation" operation, the third since Trump took office. Over the past six months, the US has grown increasingly bold, or provocative as Beijing calls it, by sending aircraft and ships to contested waters in the South China Sea to the anger and frustration of Beijing.
As is well-known, China has been engaged in a long-running dispute with its neighbors over its decision to build a network of artificial islands in the area. Last summer, the Philippines won a lawsuit filed in a UN court challenging China's claim to ocean territory within a "nine-dash line." However, China refuses to recognize the ruling.