US Defense Secretary Ash Carter said that US naval ships can sail wherever they want and that includes off islands that China says belong within its self-declared, expanded territorial zone off its coast. He sent a destroyer near the Paracel and Spratly islands in the South China Sea, where China has tried to bolster its case with facts-in-the-sea by pouring a lot of on a bunch of reefs and creating mini naval bases.
At stake, from Washington’s point of view, is its credibility with allies that share the seas: Japan, Taiwan and Philippines, along with non-ally Vietnam.
China said it was a provocation. Not sure what they’re going to do about it.
It’s hard to believe that a South China Sea sail-by would spark hostilities. But certainly China and the US seem headed toward strategic disputes that were unthinkable just a few years ago.
An alarmist view from CNBC.
Wall Street Journal sees a confrontation looming.