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US warship sails near islands claimed by China

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
The file photo shows the Arleigh Burke-class destroyer USS Russell.

The United States Navy says it has sailed a warship near islands claimed by China in the South China Sea.

The Arleigh Burke-class destroyer USS Russell, with hundreds of US military personnel aboard, sailed near the Chinese-claimed Spratly Islands.

The move marked the latest attempt by the administration of US President Joe Biden to supposedly challenge China’s territorial claims in the South China Sea.

It was the second such act of provocation under Biden. Earlier this month, two American carrier groups conducted a joint exercise near the Chinese-claimed Paracel Islands.

The US Navy claimed it “conducted a multitude of exercises aimed at increasing interoperability between assets as well as command and control capabilities,” adding that through those exercises, the Navy “asserted navigational rights and freedoms in the vicinity of the Paracel Islands, consistent with international law.”

China, Vietnam, Taiwan, the Philippines, Malaysia, and Brunei all have overlapping claims to disputed territories in the South China Sea.

Washington has been taking sides with the claimants opposed to Beijing in the disputes.

China has repeatedly protested US military presence in and around the areas under its control. Beijing accuses Washington of seeking to create tensions in the region and interfering in its internal affairs.

Last week, President Xi Jinping told Biden in their first phone conversation that a potential confrontation between China and the United States would be a “disaster.”

President Xi insisted that cooperation between Beijing and Washington was the “only choice.”

“The two countries should work together, meet each other half way... focus on cooperation, manage differences, and promote the healthy and stable development of China-US relations,” Xi said.

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