U.S. warship passes disputed island, challenging China


HONG KONG – A U.S. warship sailed on Tuesday within 12 miles of an artificial island built by China in the South China Sea, an operation intended to show that the United States opposes China’s efforts to restrict navigation in the strategic waterway, the Pentagon said.

The warship, the William P. Lawrence, a guided missile destroyer, ventured into the vicinity of Fiery Cross Reef, a 700-acre artificial island China constructed in the past 18 months on top of two small rocks. The operation Tuesday, known as a freedom-of-navigation patrol, came as tensions between the United States and China escalated ahead of a U.N. arbitration ruling on whether Beijing has the right to claim 12-mile territorial waters and 200-mile exclusive economic zones around reefs and atolls in the South China Sea. The ruling, in a case brought by the Philippines, a U.S. ally, is expected in the coming weeks.



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