Admiral John Richardson says the United States has seen Chinese activity around Scarborough Shoal, which China seized from the Philippines nearly four years ago, in the northern part of the Spratly archipelago of the South China Sea. An international court ruling on a case brought by the Philippines against China over its South China Sea claims is expected within a month.
A U.S. B-52 long-range bomber on a routine mission over the South China Sea mistakenly flew within two nautical miles of an artificial island built by China near the Cuarteron Reef in the disputed Spratly Islands archipelago, according to a senior U.S. defense official. The Chinese Defense Ministry issues a statement accusing the U.S. of deliberately raising tensions in the disputed region.
Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin says the United States was making political provocations with its patrols in the disputed South China Sea. He also says China is building military facilities on islands and reefs in the South China Sea as part of its national defense policy. Yesterday, U.S. President Barack Obama said, for the sake of regional stability, countries should stop building artificial islands and militarizing their claims in this sea.
Japan's prime minister Shinzō Abe says he is considering sending Japanese Navy warships to the South China Sea to back-up U.S. naval operations, saying, "With regard to activity by the Self-Defense Forces in the South China Sea, I will consider it while focusing on what effect the situation has on Japan’s security." In response, China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson, Hong Lei, told Chinese state media that China will remain on “high alert for intervention by Japan in the South China Sea issue”.
U.S. officials say the U.S. Navy deliberately avoided military drills or other actions that could have further inflamed tensions with Beijing during the USS Lassen's patrol in the South China Sea last week. For instance, the Lassen turned off its fire-control radars while transiting within 12 nautical miles of Subi Reef. On its part, the Chinese destroyer following the Lassen was, "very cordial the entire time … before and after the Spratly Islands transit," said the Lassen's commanding officer, Commander Robert Francis.
Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Zhang Yesui summons US ambassador Max Baucus to protest a US naval patrol close to Beijing's man-made islands in the South China Sea. Zhang called the US patrol "extremely irresponsible" and urged Washington to cease actions that harm China's sovereignty and security.
The U.S. Navy plans to send guided missile destroyer USS Lassen within 12 nautical miles of artificial islands built by China in the South China Sea. This first freedom of navigation challenge to China's territorial claims in one of the world's busiest sea lanes may occur as soon as tomorrow, according to a U.S. defense official.
The United States and Australia warn China they remain committed to freedom of navigation in the waters of the South China Sea and express strong concerns at China’s construction of artificial islands in the disputed waters.
China completes the construction of two lighthouses on the disputed Spratly Islands in the South China Sea according to Chinese state media. The U.S. and the Philippines have opposed the construction efforts.