The USS Preble conducted a freedom-of-navigation operation near the disputed Scarborough Shoal, sailing within 12 nautical miles of this territory to “challenge excessive maritime claims and preserve access to the waterways as governed by international law,” a 7th Fleet spokesman told Reuters.
In Beijing, the latest freedom-of-navigation operation was sharply criticized.
“I must stress once again that the U.S. warship’s relevant actions have violated China‘s sovereignty and undermined the peace, security and good order in the relevant sea areas. China is firmly opposed to this,” Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Lu Kang told reporters on Monday.
“We strongly urge the United States to immediately stop such provocative actions so as not to undermine US-China relations and regional peace and stability.”
This is the second time this month and the fourth time this year the US Navy has conducted this type of operation in the South China Sea.
The USS Preble and another guided-missile destroyer, the USS Chung-Hoon, conducted a freedom-of-navigation operation in the Spratlys on May 6.
While the increase in operational tempo comes amid rising trade tensions between Washington and Beijing, the US Navy insists that these actions are carried out for reasons outside geopolitics.
There is a debate among experts, however, over the effectiveness of such operations.