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The USS McCampbell has carried out a “freedom of navigation” operation, sailing within 12 nautical miles of the Paracel Island chain, in the South China Sea “to challenge excessive maritime claims”, Reuters reported quoting Pacific Fleet spokeswoman Rachel McMarr’s statement.

The operation was not about any one country or to make a political statement, McMarr said, as quoted by Reuters.

Earlier it was reported that Chinese authorities and members of an American government delegation on 7 January officially began negotiations in Beijing to eliminate bilateral contradictions in the field of trade and economy.

For many years, the South China Sea has been a zone of confrontation due to territorial claims by a number of Asian states on the Spratly archipelago, the Paracel Islands and surrounding waters. Vietnam, China, Brunei, Malaysia, and the Philippines are involved in the dispute over the ownership of these territories.

According to estimates, significant reserves of oil and mineral raw materials may be concentrated on the shelf of these islands.

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