US warships 'to sail near China-made islands'

BEIJING • The United States is expected to sail warships close to China's artificial islands in the South China Sea within the next two weeks to signal that it does not recognise Chinese territorial claims over the area, the Financial Times reported, citing a senior US official.

The ships will sail within the 12 nautical-mile zones that China claims as territory around some of the islands it has constructed in the Spratly chain, the report said.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hua Chunying told a regular news briefing yesterday that China was paying attention to such reports, and that it and the US have maintained "extremely thorough communication" on the South China Sea issue.

"I believe the US side is extremely clear about China's relevant principled stance," she said. "We hope the US side can objectively and fairly view the current situation in the South China Sea and, with China, genuinely play a constructive role in safeguarding peace and stability in the South China Sea."

The White House declined to comment on potential classified naval operations. The US State Department and Pentagon did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the report.

China claims most of the South China Sea, in which the Spratly islands are located and through which US$5 trillion (S$7 trillion) in ship-borne trade passes every year.

The Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan also have overlapping claims in the area.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 09, 2015, with the headline 'US warships 'to sail near China-made islands''. Print Edition | Subscribe