The US Navy will likely carry out another patrol within 12 nautical miles of artificial islands in the South China Sea before the end of the year, a US Navy official has said.
The USS Lassen, a guided missile destroyer, sailed close to one of China’s man-made islands in the Spratly Islands archipelago in October to underscore its rights under international law, drawing an angry rebuke from Beijing.
A US defense official said this month the Navy planned two or more patrols a quarter in the region as part of its plan to regularly exercise its rights under international law and remind China and others about its view.
The US Navy official said the next patrol in the Spratly Islands archipelago would likely take place in December.
Two US B-52 bombers also flew near the artificial Chinese islands last week, in advance of President Barack Obama’s visit to the region this week to attend Asia-Pacific summits.
Obama on Friday said the disputed region would be a major focus of summit meetings among world leaders this weekend in the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur.
On Thursday, Obama demanded China halt land reclamation work that is turning seven reefs into artificial islands. China is building airfields and other facilities on some of them.