US Navy destroyer sailed in South China

Prelims level : Mains level : “India's Involvement in South China Sea dispute has to be seen in the context of ‘Offensive-Defence Strategy’.” Explain.
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  • Two U.S. guided missile destroyers sailed near disputed islands claimed by China in the South China Sea on 19 May 2019.
  • The USS Preble and USS Chung Hoon traveled within 12 nautical miles of the Gaven and Johnson Reefs.
  • The operation comes amid heightened tensions between the U.S. and China over a possible trade deal.


  • Scarborough Reef, aka Scarborough Shoal, is an uninhabited reef in the South China Sea about 120 miles west of the Philippines surrounded by rich fishing grounds claimed by both China and the Philippines.
  • China seized control of the reef from the Philippines in 2012 as part of an effort to claim control of South China Sea areas near the Spratly Islands and the Paracel Islands.
  • Under international law, a country’s territorial water limits extend 12 nautical miles from its coastline.
  • The U.S. Navy will sail what are known FONOPS within that limit to challenge a country’s excessive maritime territorial claims.
  • China has placed significant military structures and equipment on seven artificial islands it’s built on reefs in the Spratly Islands.
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