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The latest freedom of navigation patrol for the U.S. Navy in the South China Sea brought the destroyer USS John S. McCain to within 12 nautical miles of a Chinese artificial island off the Philippine coast on Thursday.
USNI News notes this is the third patrol under the schedule presented to President Trump by the Office of the Secretary of Defense and U.S. Pacific Command. Or at least it was theoretically the third patrol, since the Pentagon has been rather coy about confirming it happened, and the Chinese have forgone their customary complaints.
Response - USNI - News - Points - Challenge
The muted response is interesting because, as USNI News points out, this was “the least ambiguous challenge to China’s artificial island campaign” yet, although a U.S. defense official plausibly argued that a similar operation in May was more aggressive, since it involved a guided-missile destroyer coming within six nautical miles of the Chinese base and hanging around for 90 minutes, long enough to conduct a man-overboard drill.
Anonymous U.S. officials told Reuters the John S. McCain passed through a string of islets, reefs, and shoals in territory claimed by China before approaching Mischief Reef in the Spratly Islands.
CBS - News - Reports - Nothing - US
CBS News reports “nothing happened that the U.S. Navy considers unsafe or unprofessional.” The Philippine government was notified in advance of the patrol, although Filipino forces...
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