Washington is currently debating the possibility of deploying U.S. Navy ships and aircrafts to the South China Sea. U.S. government officials have shared that the decision has been prompted by a need to inhibit China’s growing aggressiveness in the region. The U.S. may soon conduct “freedom of navigation operations” in the South China Sea. U.S. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter has reportedly recommending authorizing aerial patrols over China’s claimed islands in the South China Sea. The Defense Secretary has also suggested sending U.S. Navy ships into the 12 nautical mile radius around the Spratly Islands that China has claimed as part of its territory.

China has continued building artificial islands in the South China Sea despite international arguments against the same. Beijing maintains that its islands are within its legitimate territory and cites historical rights to the same. Washington, however, has stated that China is building in international waters and as such, not only are the artificial islands not to be considered legal, actual islands but outposts, they are also in violation of international laws on shared waters and do not count as China’s sovereign territory. Washington’s latest decision to take stronger military action in the region has been inspired by a need to curb China’s growing territory and boldness in the region. By sending its fleet into the waters that China claims as its territorial seas, Washington intends to alert Beijing that it does not consider its claims lawful and does not recognize China’s sovereign rights to the region.

Most recently, the U.S. has conducted aerial surveillance patrols near China’s outposts in the South China Sea. The U.S. has also been running the USS Fort Worth in close proximity to China’s claimed territories. Details regarding updated surveillance routines and closer patrols have not been shared as yet. The Pentagon is reportedly reviewing different plans and is expected to submit a proposal to the White House to deploy U.S. navy crafts within a 12-mile radius of the artificial islands. The U.S.’ decision on the matter is made all the more complex by the fact that it does, in fact, recognize some islands as part of China’s rightful territory while not extending the same title to others. CONTINUE