A day after US President Barack Obama met with Chinese President Xi Jinping at a nuclear summit in Washington, Reuters reports that the US Navy plans to conduct another passage near disputed islands in the South China Sea in early April, a source familiar with the plan said on Friday, the third in a series of challenges that have drawn sharp rebukes from China.
In recent months, the United States has conducted what it calls “freedom of navigation” exercises where it sails near disputed islands to underscore its rights to navigate the seas. US Navy officials have said they plan to conduct more and increasingly complex exercises in the future.
More than USD5 trillion of world trade travels through South China Sea every year. China claims most of the area, and Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, the Philippines and Taiwan have rival claims.
Tensions have been rising within the disputed areas concerning the reclamation activities of China. In recent months, US ships have been frequently and routinely shadowed by Chinese ships and regular communications with Chinese vessels have often been tense.