[Ed. – This is bad. Letting this exercise of navigation rights fall into disuse is tantamount to conceding China’s excessive claims — which are indisputably excessive. China’s claims don’t meet the criteria or intent of the Law of the Sea Convention that other nations, including the U.S., observe.]
The United States should make clear to China that it does not recognize its sovereignty claims in the South China Sea by sailing warships within 12 nautical miles of artificial islands Beijing has constructed, Senate Armed Services Committee chairman Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said Thursday.
Not doing so, he said during a committee hearing on maritime security strategy in the Asia-Pacific, was “a dangerous mistake that grants de-facto recognition of China’s man-made sovereignty claims.”
Pressed as to the last time U.S. Navy ships did enter the waters within 12 miles of the artificial islands, assistant secretary of defense for Asian and Pacific security affairs David Shear told McCain that had happened in 2012.
Elsewhere in the South China Sea, he said, the U.S. had conducted “freedom of navigation operations” most recently last April.