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Support Grows for US Patrols in South China Sea

USS McCampbell, USS Lassen and USS Shoup, three Arleigh Burke-class destroyers, steam in formation during a photo exercise. (U.S. Navy photo by Chief Photographer Mate Todd P. Cichonowicz)
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The defense minister of Malaysia says he supports America navigating the South China Sea.

Last week, the United States Navy sent the USS Lassen within 12 nautical miles of a Chinese man-made island in the South China Sea. The government of China said the American mission violated its territorial claims and laws of the sea.

The South China Sea is home to more than $5 trillion of shipping each year. It also claims 10 percent of the world’s fresh fish market. Portions of the sea are claimed by China, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam, Brunei and Taiwan.

“I hope this will not create a situation that will increase tensions, that will make the waters even more murky,” said Malaysian Defense Minister Hishammuddin Hussein.

Hussein said he welcomes American vessels. He also said he has no problem with the U.S. patrolling the South China Sea.

But the Philippine defense secretary said in October that
Maritime disputes are complex issues that require rules-based solutions.

“As responsible members of the international community, parties must refrain from unilateral actions that change the status quo and increase tensions.”

The Malaysian defense meetings come during a visit to China by U.S. Pacific Fleet Commander Harry Harris. The U.S. commander defended the patrols.

“We’ve been conducting freedom of navigation operations all over the world for decades,” Harris said. “No one should be surprised by them. The South China Sea is not, and will not, be an exception.”

I’m Jill Robbins.

Jim Dresbach adapted this story for Learning English. Kathleen Struck was the editor.

Should the U.S. patrol the South China Sea? Why or why not? Please leave your opinion in our Comments section and on our Facebook page.


Words in This Story

defense – n. the act of defending someone or something from attack

navigation – n. the act of moving in a boat or ship over an area of water

nautical – adj. relating to ships and sailing

trillion – n. one thousand billion

murky – adj. very dark or foggy

maritime – adj. relating to sailing on the sea or doing business by sea

patrols – n. the act of walking or going around or through an area, building, etc., in order to make sure that it is safe