The US conducted a naval patrol close to a China-controlled island in the South China Sea on Sunday – the second such operation confirmed by American officials in less than six weeks – following several recent moves that appear to signal Washington’s displeasure with Beijing. The US Navy on Sunday sent the guided-missile destroyer USS Stethem near Triton Island in the Paracel Island chain in the South China Sea, according to US officials. The warship came to within 12 nautical miles of Triton, indicating the patrol was meant as a freedom-of-navigation operation and represented a challenge to what the US sees as excessive maritime claims. According to The Wall Street Journal, China, Taiwan and Vietnam all lay claim to the island, which is smaller than a square mile and serves as a Chinese outpost. Beijing has controlled it since seizing the Paracels from Vietnamese forces in 1974.
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