US warship sails near South China Sea islands

By Reuters   February 5, 2021 | 01:37 am PT
US warship sails near South China Sea islands
Satellite photo shows the North Island, part of the Paracel Islands group in the South China Sea, on September 29, 2017. Photo by Planet Labs/Handout via Reuters.
A US warship sailed near the Paracel Islands in the South China Sea on Friday in a freedom of navigation operation, the U.S. Navy said.

It was the first such mission under President Joe Biden’s new administration.

The busy waterway is one of a number of flashpoints in the U.S.-China relationship, which include a trade war, U.S. sanctions, Hong Kong and Taiwan.

China has been infuriated by repeated U.S. sailings near the islands Beijing occupies and controls in the South China Sea. China says it has irrefutable sovereignty and has accused Washington of deliberately stoking tensions.

The U.S. Navy’s 7th Fleet said the USS John S. McCain "asserted navigational rights and freedoms in the vicinity of the Paracel Islands, consistent with international law."

China took full control of the Paracels in 1974 after a short battle with South Vietnamese forces.

Vietnam has repeatedly affirmed that it has full legal basis and historical evidence to assert its sovereignty over the Hoang Sa (Paracel) and Truong Sa (Spratly) islands in the South China Sea accordance with international law. The waters is known as the East Sea in Vietnam.

The same U.S. ship involved in this mission earlier this week transited the sensitive Taiwan Strait, drawing an angry response from Beijing.

Last month a U.S. aircraft carrier strike group entered the South China Sea for what the Navy said was routine operations.

go to top