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South China Sea Standoff
Reuters: U.S. Destroyer to Challenge Beijing in South China Sea

Will they or won’t they? That’s been the question on everyone’s mind about whether the United States would sail ships within 12 miles of China’s artificial islands in the South China Sea. The White House has sent mixed signals for months. Now, Reuters reports, they’ve made a decision:

The U.S. Navy plans to send the USS Lassen destroyer within 12 nautical miles of artificial islands built by China in the South China Sea within 24 hours, the first of more regular challenges to China’s territorial claims, a U.S. defense official said on Monday.

The destroyer’s patrol would occur near Subi and Mischief reefs in the Spratly archipelago, features that were formerly submerged at high tide before China began a massive dredging project to turn them into islands in 2014.

The ship would likely be accompanied by a U.S. Navy P-8A surveillance plane, and possibly P-3 surveillance plane, which have been conducting regular surveillance missions in the region, according to the official.

The patrol will mark the most serious U.S. challenge yet to the 12-nautical-mile territorial limit China claims around the islands, and follows months of deliberation.

We haven’t heard this level of certainty before, but we’ve seen so much backtracking it’s almost impossible to know what’s actually going to happen. Don’t blame us when we say we’ll only believe it when we see it.

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  • Nevis07

    Obama kept saying, ‘I’m gonna do it… Really… I mean it this time!’ Xi called his bluff so many times on so many issues from Japan, to the South China Sea, to cyber espionage – that Obama has been forced to now follow through at risk of looking weaker than he already does. See, Obama thinks, he’s playing China’s leadership, when it’s actually the other way around.

    I almost hope he doesn’t follow through on this. When you confront a bully, you have to be willing to stand your ground or you risk future confrontations. Obama’s faintheartedness could really get us into trouble. I have little faith in him and personally, I’d hope the next administration is the one to challenge China. Obama has lost all credibility.

  • Jacksonian_Libertarian

    I agree, Obama’s red lines are green lights. And do we trust this incompetent not to get us into a war? We should be using the Chinese belligerence to get an extremely favorable economic and military alliance with every country from India to Japan and from South Korea to Australia. The alliance should be in place, and joint exercises should be used to push the Chinese back to their mainland. Sending a weak force of one destroyer is so tentative, it isn’t intimidating at all.

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