U.S. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter indicated Tuesday that the United States will continue its freedom of navigation operation, the day after the U.S. Navy sent a guided-missile destroyer to within what China claims to be territorial waters around its man-made islands in the South China Sea also known as the West Philippine Sea.
At a meeting of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Carter said, “We will fly, sail and operate wherever international law permits and whenever our operational needs require.”
Although declining to comment on a particular operation, Carter acknowledged a U.S. naval patrol in the region as widely reported in the media, saying, “there have been naval operations in that region in recent days.”(Kyodo)
US in close communications with Beijing over South China Sea tensions
iN related development, the United States is keeping in close contact with Chinese officials regarding tensions that have erupted over the US military sending a warship in the South China Sea, US State Department Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs (EAP) spokesperson Katrina Adams told Sputnik.
“We [the United States] are in close communication with the [Chinese] Ministry of Foreign Affairs and have had a number of discussions on this issue,” Adams said on Tuesday when asked to comment on reports that China summoned the US Ambassador over the South China Sea patrol.
Earlier on Tuesday, China accused the United States of threatening the country’s security, when Washington sailed the USS Lassen within 12 nautical miles of the Spratly Islands.
The State Department could not provide more details because it does not comment on the content of diplomatic conversations, Adams added.
US officials claimed the move was intended to ensure freedom of navigation in the South China Sea.
On Tuesday, the US Department of Defense said it would continue such naval exercises in the region. (Sputnik)
U.S. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter indicated Tuesday the United States will continue its freedom of navigation operation within what China claims to be territorial waters around its man-made islands in the West Philippine Sea.