A U.S. Navy warship has sailed near a Chinese-controlled reef in the South China Sea, in a mission seen as challenging Beijing’s territorial claims in the disputed waterway.
U.S. military officials say the guided missile destroyer USS Dewey sailed within 22 kilometers (12 nautical miles) of Mischief Reef in the Spratly Islands.
Major Jamie Davis, a U.S. military spokesman, issued a statement saying the United States is continuing its operations aimed at upholding “freedom of navigation” in international waters.
Davis says American forces operate in the South China Sea on a daily basis and will continue to “fly, sail and operate wherever international law allows.”
Thursday’s operation was the first of its kind under President Donald Trump.
A spokesman for China’s foreign ministry told reporters Thursday the U.S. patrol undermined peace and stability in the South China Sea.
The United States and other nations have criticized Beijing for its island-building projects in the region, which is home to one of the world’s busiest shipping routes. Taiwan, the Philippines, Vietnam and other Asian nations also have competing claims to region.