WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes said on Monday that there would be more demonstrations of the United States’ commitment to the freedom of navigation in the disputed South China Sea.
“That’s our interest there… It’s to demonstrate that we will uphold the principle of freedom of navigation,” Rhodes said while speaking at event in Washington.
Rhodes’ comments come after a U.S. guided-missile destroyer sailed close to one of Beijing’s man-made islands in the South China Sea last week.
The USS Lassen’s patrol was the most significant U.S. challenge yet to the 12-nautical-mile territorial limits China claims around artificial islands it has built in the Spratly archipelago.
China claims most of the South China Sea, through which more than $5 trillion (£3.24 trillion) of world trade passes every year. Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, the Philippines and Taiwan have rival claims.
Rhodes added that the goal in the dispute was to come to a diplomatic framework to resolve these issues.
Reporting by Idrees Ali; Editing by David Gregorio