After months of internal debate, the Obama administration last week finally decided to dispatch a warship to challenge China’s far-reaching territorial claims in the South China Sea. But in the days since, U.S. officials have offered conflicting accounts of the operation, potentially undermining the whole point of the symbolic mission and raising doubts about whether Washington is ready to test Beijing’s claims at all.
The cruise of the guided-missile destroyer USS Lassen had been billed as a “freedom of navigation operation” that would make clear that Washington regards the seas around Beijing’s man-made islands in the South China Sea as international waters.
But over the last week, Pentagon and administration officials have struggled to explain exactly what the Lassen did when it sailed near Subi Reef, where China has constructed an island dredged from the sea floor.
Read the full article at Foreign Policy.