A US Navy warship has sailed near Chinese-claimed islands in the South China Sea, according to a US official, a move that is expected to intensify already high-running tensions between the two sides amid a growing trade war.
The close pass took place on Sunday, when the USS Decatur guided-missile destroyer traveled within 12 nautical miles of Gaven and Johnson Reefs in the Spratly Islands, an unnamed US official told Reuters.
This is the latest in a series of similar missions by the US to stop what it calls China’s plans to limit “freedom of navigation” in the strategic waters, which acts as a gateway to about $5 trillion in ship-borne trade each year.
While China has repeatedly denied the US claim, the official said Washington had no plans to stop the missions.
“We conduct routine and regular freedom-of-navigation operations, as we have done in the past and will continue to do in the future,” the US official said.
Two US Navy…