Pentagon: Sending jets, warships near China islands ‘next step’

The Pentagon says the United States is ready to deploy surveillance aircraft and naval ships to test China’s territorial claims over man-made islands in the South China Sea.

“That would be the next step,” Pentagon spokesman Colonel Steven Warren told reporters on Thursday.

US officials say American surveillance planes and naval vessels have not yet ventured within 12 nautical miles of the man-made islands–the standard territorial zone around natural land.

Washington does not recognize China’s sovereignty in the disputed areas and is weighing sending surveillance aircraft and warships to test its territorial claims.

The Pentagon’s announcement came as an American television crew picked up a tense radio exchange between a US surveillance plane and Chinese forces in the South China Sea.

A Chinese navy dispatcher reportedly made eight demands Wednesday that the US Air Force P8-A Poseidon aircraft leave the airspace over the artificial islands, CNN reported.

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