A US destroyer, the USS Lassen, passed within 12 miles of a Chinese artificial island in a disputed section of the South China Sea and the Chinese are squawking.
BEIJING/WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A U.S. guided-missile destroyer sailed close to one of China’s man-made islands in the South China Sea on Tuesday, drawing an angry rebuke from Beijing, which said it had tracked and warned the ship and called in the U.S. ambassador to protest.According to international law (Article 60 of the 1982 U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea) no nation can create an artificial island as national territory and impose a 12 mile limit around it.
The USS Lassen’s patrol was the most significant U.S. challenge yet to the 12-nautical-mile territorial limits China claims around artificial islands it has built up in the Spratly archipelago as Beijing exercises its growing maritime power.
Washington’s move followed months of deliberation by the administration of President Barack Obama and could ratchet up tension in one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes and increase strains in U.S.-China relations.
A U.S. defense official said the Lassen also went within 12-mile limits of features in the disputed sea claimed by Vietnam and U.S. treaty ally, the Philippines. They said such “freedom-of-navigation” patrols were expected to become more frequent.
Just six weeks ago five Chinese war ships violated the 12 mile limit to the Aleutian Islands near Alaska. One of these vessels, the Shenyang, is shown below.
innocent passage" rights granted by international law.
Apparently the Chinese interpret international law in different ways depending on where the water is.