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U.S. military challenges nations seeking to restrict navigation rights

( May 2nd, 2016) A U.S. Defense Department report says that the U.S. military conducted “freedom of navigation” operations against 13 countries last year, including several to challenge China’s claims in the South and East China seas. Chinese expansion in those seas poses the most threatening challenge to international freedom of navigation. Some 30 percent of world trade runs through the South China Sea, over which China seeks hegemony.

Chinese dredging vessels are purportedly seen in the waters around Mischief Reef in the disputed Spratly Islands in the South China Sea in this still image from video taken by a P-8A Poseidon surveillance aircraft provided by the United States Navy May 21, 2015. REUTERS/U.S. Navy/Handout via Reuters

The operations involve sending U.S. Navy ships and military aircraft where other nations have tried to limit access. The aim is to show that the international community does not accept such restrictions.