The United States is poised to send naval ships and aircraft to the South China Sea in a challenge to Beijing’s territorial claims to its rapidly-built artificial islands, U.S. officials told Foreign Policy. The move toward a somewhat more muscular stance follows talks between Chinese President Xi Jinping and U.S. President Barack Obama in Washington last month, which fell far short of a breakthrough over how territorial disputes should be settled in the strategic South China Sea.
A final decision has not been made, but the Obama administration is heavily leaning toward using a show of military might after Chinese opposition ended diplomatic efforts to halt land reclamation and the construction of military outposts in the waterway. The timing and details of the patrols — which would be designed to uphold principles of freedom of navigation in international waters — are still being worked out, Obama administration and Pentagon officials said. CONTINUE