For US, Pacific showdown with China a long time coming

TOKYO - Tensions in the South China Sea reached a new high on Oct. 27, when the US Navy sent a guided-missile destroyer, the USS Lassen, within 12 nautical miles of artificial islands built and claimed by China.

Recent moves by the Navy and statements by its highest-ranking officers show that preparations for the exercise - and for an eventual showdown over the West Pacific - had been in the works for months.

The "freedom of navigation" exercise is Washington's most significant challenge to China to date and can be taken as a blunt statement to the world that the US does not recognise Beijing's territorial claims.

A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman issued an angry rebuke, saying "relevant authorities" monitored, followed and warned the USS Lassen as it "illegally" entered waters without the Chinese government's permission.

Read the full article here