Mattis Elaborates on Freedom of Navigation Exercise

Oct 14, 2017

Secretary of Defense James Mattis said that the United States did not violate China’s sovereignty. “We stay strictly in accordance with international law, so there’s no violation of anyone’s sovereignty,” said Mattis. The U.S. Navy sent the USS Chafee near islands that China has claimed as its own. The islands are also claimed by Vietnam and Taiwan. The Pentagon sent the Chafee into the region so as to challenge China’s “excessive maritime claims.” Mattis pointed out that the United States has been conducting freedom of navigation maneuvers for decades and that the most recent maneuvers were nothing more than benign. During the Obama administration, freedom of navigation exercises in the South China Sea were curtailed. During that time, China created 3,200 acres of new islands in that region. The Chinese are currently militarizing the islands. China has built runways, jet hangers, port facilities, and storage depots for water and fuel. During the naval exercise, China sent naval ships and fighter planes to shadow the American destroyer. China’s statement said in part, “[W]e demand the U.S. side earnestly take steps to correct its mistakes and inject positive energy into bilateral ties.”