US Navy Says Destroyer Conducts Navigational Rights Mission in S. China Sea

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BEIJING, (Reuters) – The U.S. Navy announced Monday that its guided-missile destroyer USS Milius carried out a navigational rights-and-freedoms mission in South China Sea near Spratly Islands.

The announcement was made as China's military conducted precision strikes against Taiwan in military drills on the island. This comes amid rising tensions between the U.S. and China in the region.

According to the U.S. Navy, the operation of the destroyer was in accordance with international law.

A U.S. Navy statement stated that "At the end of the operation, USS Milius left the excessive claim area to continue operations in the South China Sea." "This freedom-of-navigation operation protected the rights, freedoms, and lawful uses the sea."

China and the United States disagreed over the movements of the USS Milius last month. China claimed that the vessel entered its territorial waters in South China Sea, near the Paracel Islands.

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China claims large swathes that are overlapping with the exclusive economic zones of other countries, including the Philippines. Every year, the waterway facilitates trade worth trillions of dollars.