TAIPEI: A U.S. warship sailed near the Chinese-controlled Paracel Islands in the disputed South China Sea on Friday in a freedom of navigation operation, the U.S. Navy said, the first such mission under President Joe Biden’s new administration.
China’s military condemned the move, saying it had dispatched naval and air units to follow and warn away the ship.
The busy waterway is one of a number of flashpoints in the U.S.-China relationship, which include a trade war, U.S. sanctions, Hong Kong and Taiwan.
China has been infuriated by repeated U.S. sailings near the islands Beijing occupies and controls in the South China Sea. China says it has irrefutable sovereignty and has accused Washington of deliberately stoking tensions.
The U.S. Navy’s 7th Fleet said the destroyer USS John S. McCain “asserted navigational rights and freedoms in the vicinity of the Paracel Islands, consistent with international law”.
The freedom of navigation operation upheld the rights, freedoms and…