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Pentagon report notes freedom of navigation violations, highlights China

U.S. Navy Seaman Xi Chan stands lookout aboard the USS Barry as it transits the Taiwan Strait last April, one of several the Department of Defense highlighted Wednesday in an annual report on its Freedom of Navigation operations. Photo by Ensign Samuel Hardgrove/U.S. Navy
U.S. Navy Seaman Xi Chan stands lookout aboard the USS Barry as it transits the Taiwan Strait last April, one of several the Department of Defense highlighted Wednesday in an annual report on its Freedom of Navigation operations. Photo by Ensign Samuel Hardgrove/U.S. Navy

March 10 (UPI) -- U.S. forces met 28 excessive maritime claims by 19 countries in 2020, the Defense Department's Freedom of Navigation report, released on Wednesday, says.

The seven-page report to Congress identified seven separate accusations of violations by China of the 1982 Law of the Sea Conventions.

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The violations include "restriction of foreign aircraft flying through an Air Defense Identification Zone," "criminalization of surveying and mapping activities by foreign entities" without Chinese government approval, and requirement of prior permission for "innocent passage of foreign military ships" through the East China and South China Seas.

Violations involving Algeria, Brazil, Iran, Venezuela and other countries are also mentioned in the report.

"Upholding freedom of navigation as a principle supports unimpeded lawful commerce and the global mobility of U.S. forces," the Pentagon said the in a press release.

"FONOPs [Freedom of Navigation Operations challenges] demonstrate that the United States will fly, sail and operate wherever international law allows, regardless of the location of excessive maritime claims and regardless of current events," the Pentagon said.

The Unites States Navy is involved in maritime operations around the world, and regularly cites Freedom of Navigation rights and responsibilities in announcing its fleet maneuvers.

The announcements include, for example, a Feb. 24 statement on the transit of the guided missile destroyer USS Curtis Wilber through the Taiwan Strait, between China and Taiwan, that "demonstrates the U.S. commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific [theater of operations]."

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