Tensions are on the rise in the South China Sea.
The USS Lassen reportedly breached the 12-mile exclusion zone imposed by China around the Subi and Mischief islands, part of the Spratly Archipelago.
The White House says this is a “freedom of navigation” exercise. But there has been an angry rebuke from Beijing.
US Navy ship sails near an artificial island built by China in the South China Sea, US defense official says https://t.co/JB90wscSE3— The Associated Press (@AP) 27 Octobre 2015
Freedom of Navigation – what does that mean?
“Freedom-of-navigation” exercises are intended to monitor international adherence to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Seas.
As such, some say the patrol represents a serious challenge to China’s claims over its territorial waters.
The reefs, which were underwater, were dredged and drained by China in 2013.
Commentators have pointed out that Beijing has little option but to see this as a threat to its sovereignty:
Sabre-rattling or a genuine threat?
Good background on US Freedom of Navigation Op around Subi. Expect these ops to continue in SCS. https://t.co/vRWISPLSnz via
Reuters</a></p>— Sheila A. Smith (SheilaSmithCFR) 27 Octobre 2015
Hawks v Doves: reaction divides the US
Reaction in the Twittersphere to reports of the US naval operation is divided. Some on the hawkish side exhorted the White House to “just do it”:
While others more on the side of the doves urged restraint:
Here we go: US sends destroyer to buzz Chinese-claimed reefs in S.China Sea https://t.co/kmK6o0hm7C by
DavidLarter</a> <a href="https://t.co/9zSIO2Psoc">pic.twitter.com/9zSIO2Psoc</a></p>— Andrew deGrandpre (adegrandpre) 27 Octobre 2015