United States Navy Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer USS Mustin (DDG-89) conducted a freedom of navigation operation within 12 nautical miles of Chinese artificial island in West Philippine Sea on Friday, March 23.
Reuters, in an exclusive report, said that US “officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the USS Mustin traveled close to Mischief Reef in the Spratly Islands and carried out maneuvering operations.”
USS Mustin together with other US Navy warships participated in the recently concluded MultiSail 2018, a bilateral training exercise with Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF).
The Arbitral Tribunal at the Permanent Court of Arbitration, in its July 2016 Award, “found that Mischief Reef lies within the exclusive economic zone and continental shelf of the Philippines.”
“The Tribunal now turns to the Philippines’ Submission that China, through its occupation and construction activities, has unlawfully attempted to appropriate Mischief Reef,” the Arbitral Tribunal said.
“The Tribunal finds that China has, through its construction of installations and artificial islands at Mischief Reef without the authorisation of the Philippines, breached Articles 60 and 80 of the Convention with respect to the Philippines’ sovereign rights in its exclusive economic zone and continental shelf. The Tribunal further finds that, as a low-tide elevation, Mischief Reef is not capable of appropriation,” the tribunal said.
Sources: https://pca-cpa.org/wp-content/uploads/sites/175/2016/07/PH-CN-20160712-Award.pdf; https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-china-southchinasea/exclusive-u-s-warship-sails-near-disputed-islands-in-south-china-sea-officials-say-idUSKBN1GZ0VY