China’s 12nm limit and the USA

What the United States actually hope to accomplish by sailing within 12 nm of Chinese claims in the South China Sea?

South China Sea: What 12 Nautical Miles Does and Doesn’t Mean

By Graham Webster

The U.S. Navy is reportedly preparing to conduct “freedom of navigation” (FON) operations, sending one or more surface ships within 12 nautical miles (nm) of Chinese-claimed features in the South China Sea. The administration has been pressured to go ahead with this demonstration of U.S. views on conduct at sea, but the terms of the public debate have failed to match the legal and political implications.

Though details are scarce, unnamed U.S. and Asian officials told The New York Times U.S. allies were being briefed on the plans, which reportedly involve traveling near one or more of China’s recently constructed or expanded outposts. Daniel Kritenbrink, the new senior director for Asian affairs at the U.S. National Security Council, reportedly told a closed-door meeting the decision to go ahead was already made.

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