The US has threatened further naval incursions into waters claimed by China after naval manoeuvres near two artificial islands in the South China Sea prompted an angry rebuke from Beijing.
China summoned the US ambassador to Beijing in protest and accused the US of a “serious provocation” following US naval manoeuvres during which the guided-missile destroyer USS Lassen sailed close to a Chinese artificial island.
But US defense secretary Ash Carter warned on Tuesday that naval operations in the area would continue. “We will fly, sail and operate wherever international law permits,” said Carter, during a congressional hearing in which lawmakers claimed the US risked losing credibility with its allies in the region if it did not act.
“There have been naval operations in that region in recent days and there will be more in the weeks and months to come,” he said.
The US navy began its mission through waters near the island at about 6.40am local time on Tuesday.