Pentagon Raises Stakes Over Chinese Expansion in South China Sea

The Pentagon is considering sending U.S. military aircraft and ships to assert freedom of navigation around growing Chinese-made artificial islands in the disputed South China Sea.
A U.S. official said on Tuesday U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter requested options that include sending U.S. military ships and aircraft within 12 nautical miles of reefs that China has been building up in the disputed Spratly Islands.
Such a move would directly challenge Chinese efforts to expand its influence in the disputed region by literally adding territory through a massive island-building exercise.
"We are considering how to demonstrate freedom of navigation in an area that is critical to world trade," the U.S. official said, speaking on condition of anonymity, adding any options would need to be approved by the White House.
Carter's request for the development of options including using the U.S. ships and aircraft was first reported earlier on Tuesday by the Wall Street Journal.
The Pentagon did not immediately comment.



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