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The United States and China seem to be edging closer to a naval showdown over freedom of navigation in the South China Sea. The US has announced it plans to conduct naval patrols within 12 nautical miles of China’s controversial “artificial islands” in order to uphold the principle of “freedom of navigation” under international law. China’s state-run English-language newspaper has called such plans “provocative” with one Chinese admiral even threatening to deliver a “head on blow” to any foreign forces threatening Chinese sovereignty of the disputed islands.



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