The Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer USS Russell skirted the Chinese-controlled Paracel Islands in a freedom of navigation operation (FONOP) in the South China Sea on Wednesday, Spokesman for the US Navy’s 7th Fleet Lieutenant Joe Keiley said in a statement.
According to the statement, such maritime claims pose a serious threat to the freedom of the South China Sea, particularly freedom of navigation, overflight, free trade, and unimpeded commerce.
Since Joe Biden assumed the presidency, the US has reaffirmed its commitment to allies in the Asian region, pledging to defend the disputed territories in the South China Sea and confront China on a wide range of issues, including the freedom of navigation.
Following the first phone call between the President Biden and the Chinese leader XI Jinping – during which POTUS challenged his counterpart on alleged human right abuses in Xinjiang, “coercive and unfair economic practices,” and China’s stance on Taiwan – Biden announced the formation of a Pentagon-run China task force to deal with the challenge from Beijing.
The Chinese government, for its part, has repeatedly denied allegations on human right abuses in Xinjiang and pledged to further open the Chinese economy to foreign competitors. Notably, President Xi…