|USS Dewey (Image: Wiki Commons)|
By Patricia Lourdes Viray
MANILA, Philippines — A US Navy warship sailed within 12 nautical miles of one of China's artificial islands in the disputed South China Sea, challenging Beijing's claim over the region, according to US officials.
USS Dewey, an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer, traveled close to the artificial island China built on Mischief Reef in the Spratly Islands.
This would the US Navy's first freedom of navigation operation (FONOP) in the South China Sea since US President Donald Trump took office in January.
The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea defines territorial waters as extending at most 12 nautical miles from a state's coastline.
Mischief or Panganiban Reef, also being claimed by the Philippines, is included in the ruling of an international arbitration court based in the The Hague, Netherlands. The international tribunal found that Mischief Reef is part of the Philippines' continental shelf.
In its ruling issued on July 2016, the United Nations-backed tribunal invalidated China's claim to sovereignty over the South China Sea.
The tribunal considered Mischief Reef as a low-tide elevation, which gives no entitlement to any exclusive maritime zone under international law. It does not merit a territorial sea but does warrant a 500-meter safety zone.
Mischief Reef is also one of the three artificial islands where China had built air bases and military facilities, allowing them to launch missiles anywhere in the region.
Read the full story at PhilStar