The US will not change its plan to sail warships around the Spratly Islands, despite China’s warnings. China considers this move a violation of its territory which won’t be tolerated.
China has constructed artificial islands in the South China Sea. The purpose of this is not quite clear. However, this move is considered a threat to the US and its allies, because China might build military facilities on the islands. By doing this, China managed to create sovereign territory where it previously did not exist.
As Pentagon publicly announced that the US ships will sail around the islands, there is no turning back at this point. If the US backed away, their public image as a strong and powerful force would be compromised.
On the other hand, the position of US ships around the island would test China’s commitment that the islands won’t be militarized.
The US ships will patrol within 12 nautical miles of the artificial islands. Even though this can be considered a provocation, the US will continue with its plan.
This plan is known as freedom of navigation operations or Fonop. According to Defense Secretary Ash Carter, these operations have been planned for months.