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Pentagon Blocks U.S. Navy from Provocative Freedom-of-Navigation Operations in the South China Sea

May 3, 2017 (EIRNS)—The U.S. Navy has been blocked from conducting so-called freedom of navigation operations near Chinese-claimed islands in the South China Sea, since President Trump’s inauguration on Jan. 20. According to a distressed report in the New York Times, the Pentagon has rejected three such requests from the Navy, without even sending them on to the White House for final approval.

"More than 100 days into the Trump presidency, no American Navy ship has gone within 12 miles of any of the disputed islands in the South China Sea, Defense Department officials said,"

the Times reported.

"The decision not to challenge China’s territorial claims represents a remarkable deference toward Beijing from an administration that is increasingly turning toward President Xi Jinping for help amid the escalating crisis in the Korean Peninsula,"

the Times complained.

This is the opposite of what was generally expected when Trump assumed office. Robert Daly, the director of the Kissinger Institute on China and the United States at the Wilson Center, said of the Navy excursions:

"All of the language, combined with the fact that the Republican foreign policy establishment had been critical of Obama for not carrying out enough FONOPS, means there was a wide expectation that Trump would put down a marker early. And that hasn’t happened."