Germany on Monday sent a warship to the South China Sea for the first time in almost two decades, joining other Western nations in expanding its military presence in the region amid growing alarm over China’s territorial ambitions.
China claims swathes of the South China Sea and has established military outposts on artificial islands in the waters that contain gas fields and rich fishing.
The US Navy, in a show of force against the Chinese territorial claims, regularly conducts so-called “freedom of navigation” operations in which their vessels pass close by some of the contested islands. China in turn objects to the US missions, saying they do not help promote peace or stability.
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