US and Britain in joint South China Sea drills
THE US and Britain have conducted their first joint naval drills in the disputed South China Sea since China built island bases there, the two navies said.
A US Navy guided missile destroyer the USS McCampbell, and a Royal Navy frigate, HMS Argyll, conducted communication drills and other exercises "to address common security priorities", the US Navy said.
"There's no record in recent history of operations together, specifically in the South China Sea," a US Navy spokesman said.
No such joint drills have been conducted there since at least 2010, he added.
The exercise comes after another British warship, the 20,000-tonne HMS Albion, sailed close to the Paracel island chain claimed by China in the South China Sea in August.
It was the first time Britain had directly challenged China's growing control of the strategic waterway and came after the US said it would like to see more international participation in such action. Beijing accused London of engaging in "provocation".
China's claims in the South China Sea are contested by Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam. Neither the US nor Britain has territorial claims in the area.