The United States sent a warship through disputed waters claimed by several countries, but which China considers entirely its own territory, and had pledged to defend. The USS Lassen, a guided-missile destroyer, sailed within 12 nautical miles of an island built on the Subi reef in the Spratly islands, a US defense official told USA Today. China has transformed once submerged reefs in disputed waters in the South China Sea into islands that it claims as its own territory.

Because the USS Lassen passed within 12 nautical miles of the man-made islands, the distance international maritime laws define as an island’s sovereign waters, the move essentially demonstrates that the US does not respect these claims.Before the ship sailed near the Subi reef, Beijing warned the US not to undertake what it would view as provocative acts. “We advise the US to think again and before acting, not act blindly or make trouble out of nothing,” said China foreign minister Wang Yi, according to Reuters. US-based China experts pointed to the possible need for “escalation control,” saying the US could be met by the Chinese navy. FULL REPORT