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US President Donald Trump has granted the US navy more freedom in operating in the controversial South China Sea, adding more pressure on China which has a massive military presence in the area where it has engaged in building artificial reefs.
The contested area of the South China Sea has been claimed by 5 countries in addition to China, being Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia, Brunei and the Philippines, however, China has been ahead in building artificial reefs and establishing its military there.
According to the new US naval plan which was submitted by US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis, US navy ships will sail through the contested waters based on a full-year schedule. The navy will also have more freedom than during the time of the Obama administration when the National Security Council approval was required to make major operational decisions.
The announcement came in the wake of Chinese warships moving towards the Baltic Sear for a joint naval exercise with the Russian Navy.
"By sending its most advanced guided-missile destroyers, China is expressing its sincerity to Russia and also sends a strong signal to other countries who plan to provoke us," Li Jie, a Beijing-based navy expert told Chinese media.
Despite China losing its case over the dominion of the South China Sea at the International Court of Justice at The Hague, which called Beijing's claims as 'unlawful and excessive', China continues with its plans of expansion, rejecting the validity of the ICJ ruling. As per reports, China is planning to expand its air defence and identification zone into the western Pacific ocean and build a 'blue water navy' to rival that of the US.