TEHRAN, Young Journalists Club (YJC)-The two guided-missile destroyers traveled within 12 nautical miles of Mischief Reef in the archipelago, which is also known as Spratly Islands, on Monday, Reuters reported, citing an American official speaking on condition of anonymity.
Meanwhile, Cmdr. Clay Doss, a spokesman for the US Navy's 7th Fleet, told CNN, the operation was conducted "to challenge excessive maritime claims and preserve access to the waterways as governed by international law."
"All operations are designed in accordance with international law and demonstrate that the United States will fly, sail and operate wherever international law allows," Doss said, adding "that is true in the South China Sea as in other places around the globe."
The US, which has been taking sides with several of China’s neighboring countries in their territorial disputes, accused China of undertaking a land reclamation program by building artificial islands in the sea.
Beijing asserts its sovereignty over nearly all of the contested sea, which serves as a crossing for more $5 trillion worth of maritime trade annually.
Washington regularly dispatches its warships and warplanes to the waters in a move, which Beijing denounces as provocation. The US’s allied countries have also been staging naval operations near the island, similarly to Beijing’s disappointment.
The new operation is the second in the South China Sea reported by the US Navy so far this year.
Last month, the US' guided-missile destroyer, USS McCampbell, sailed within 12 nautical miles of the Xisha Island chain, called Paracel by Beijing’s rivals.
The Foreign Ministry reacted to the move, saying in a statement that the US violated China’s law.
The new operation comes as the United States and China are separately locked in a trade war.
Last July, the US imposed 25-percent duties on $34 billion of imports from China in a first step in a possible series of increases that US President Donald Trump has said could affect up to $550 billion of Chinese goods -- the equivalent of the total value of Chinese exports to the US in 2017.
Next month, Washington will be shooting up tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese imports from 10 to 25 percent unless the two reached a deal that could avert the prospect.
Last August, a broad cross-section group of American companies warned Trump’s administration that the spike would force Americans to pay more for data-x-items they use throughout their daily lives.