World Bulletin / News Desk
The Pentagon is considering sending U.S. military aircraft and ships to assert freedom of navigation around rapidly growing Chinese-made artificial islands in the disputed South China Sea, a U.S. official said on Tuesday.
Defense Secretary Ash Carter requested options that include sending aircraft and ships within 12 nautical miles (22 km) of reefs that China has been building up in the Spratly island chain, the official said.
Such a move would directly challenge Chinese efforts to expand its influence in the maritime heart of Southeast Asia.
"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 that any options would need White House approval.
Carter's request was first reported earlier on Tuesday by the Wall Street Journal, which said one option was to fly Navy surveillance aircraft over the islands.
It quoted U.S. officials as saying there was now growing momentum within the Pentagon and the White House for taking concrete steps in order to send Beijing a signal that the recent build up in the Spratlys had gone too far and needed to stop.Last Mod: 13 Mayıs 2015, 09:39