Published: Mon, July 03, 2017
World Media | By Shelia Harmon

US Navy sails from Thailand into disputed South China Sea

US Navy sails from Thailand into disputed South China Sea

The Sethem approached the Triton Island in the 30-island Paracel archipelago, which are also claimed by Vietnam and Taiwan.

According to global law, countries' territories extend 12 miles out from their shores.

The Trump administration last week fined two Chinese citizens and a shipping company for their efforts in helping North Korea's nuclear and missile programs.

WASHINGTON, D.C.: Three of Beijing's outposts on contested West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) reefs are close to being ready for the deployment of military assets including mobile missile launchers, a United States think tank reported Thursday.

Last week, President Donald Trump's administration sanctioned Chinese entities doing business with North Korea and approved a new arms sale to Taiwan.

"The United States will fly, sail and operate wherever global law allows", he told USA Today.

In the Paracel Island chain and in the Spratlys, China has built up a number of small islands into fully functional military facilities complete with airfields and antiaircraft defences.

China has continued to militarize its outposts there - despite a pledge to the contrary - as it seeks to reinforce effective control of much of the waterway, through which $5 trillion in trade passes each year.

Earlier in the day, the Chinese Foreign Ministry voiced a protest against the United States guided-missile destroyer USS Stethem's entering the waters off the disputed Paracel Islands, known in China as the Xisha Islands.

Washington has long argued that Beijing's actions in the South China Sea threaten freedom of navigation and overflight through the strategically vital waters. The US Pacific Fleet spokesman, Lt. Cmdr. "That is true in the South China Sea as in other places around the globe".

Mischief and Subi each have eight shelters, AMTI had said in a previous report. Triton Island is occupied by China, but both Vietnam and Taiwan lay claim to it.

In May the USS Dewey, another destroyer, sailed six miles from one of China's man-made islands in the South China Sea.

All three islands boast hangers that can accommodate 24 fighter jets and four larger planes, including surveillance, transport, refueling or bomber aircraft.

Showing satellite images, AMTI said Beijing has constructed new missile shelters and communications facilities on Fiery Cross (or Kagitingan, as named by the Philippines), Mischief (Panganiban), and Subi (Zamora) Reefs. Further suspicions that China is using the new land masses to bolster its military in the region were apparently validated by a report released Thursday by the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative (AMTI), a branch of the nonpartisan Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Two more domes are under construction at Mischief Reef, it said.

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