This week, the United States navy carried out what may be its first Freedom of Navigation Exercises (FONOPs) in the South China Sea since President Trump took office, just a few days after a close encounter between American and Chinese aircraft.
South China Sea
The South China Sea, home to a wealth of oil and natural gas deposits, is the subject of numerous territorial disputes between the People's Republic of China, the Republic of China (Taiwan), Malaysia, Brunei, the Philippines, and Vietnam. Beyond the natural resources in the region, there are also vital international trade routes-- about half of all oil tanker shipments cross the South China Sea-- military bases, and fisheries. China, in particular, continues to increase its military presence in the area and island-building, putting both the region and the United States on alert.