The Pentagon has confirmed that it will go forward with plans made public last month to sail US Navy ships to the contested Spratly Islands, where China is undertaking large construction projects.

The Arleigh Burke Class Destroyer U.S.S. LASSEN (DDG-82) has been deployed to the South China Sea, sending a message to Beijing that China’s recent claims to the territory are not recognized, according to analysts.

China’s claims to both disputed islands as well as islands belonging to other nations, such as Japan’s Senkaku Islands, have become increasingly aggressive.

The Spratlys, claimed variously by Brunei, Malaysia, Philippines, Taiwan, and Vietnam, in addition to China, have become the site of Chinese man-made island construction projects in what has become known as an “artificial land reclamation” enterprise. The locations of the projects are the subject of longstanding and ongoing claims by the other countries.

“Make no mistake: the United States will fly, sail and be deployed wherever it allowed the international law,” stated US Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter two weeks ago.

The US has consistently warned China to restrain itself in the region. Among concerns are those regarding the way in which China enforces its territorial claims.

By James Haleavy