US Navy makes third challenge to China’s South China Sea claims under Trump (Report)

US Navy’s Arleigh Burke-class destroyer USS John S. McCain sailed within 12 miles of a Chinese artificial reef in the South China Sea on Thursday, according to Reuters.

Citing unidentified officials, Reuters wrote that the USS John S. McCain sailed close to the disputed Mischief Reef in the Spratly Islands where China has built airstrips long enough to accommodate the majority of Chinese military aircraft.

The USS John S. McCain conducted what the US Navy refers to as a freedom of navigation – a “tool” the US uses to challenge countries’ excessive claims in disputed region.

This is the third such operation the US Navy carried out under president Donald Trump and comes at a time when Trump is trying to coerce Chinese president X Jinping to help control North Korea’s nuclear tests.

The previous two freedom of navigation operations of 2017 were conducted by USS Dewey and USS Stethem in May and July, respectively.