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US may send craft to monitor China-claimed waters near Spratlys

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Chinese construction activity on the Fiery Cross Reef.   © Kyodo

WASHINGTON -- The U.S. has warned it could send planes and ships to monitor the immediate environs of disputed South China Sea islands as Beijing keeps ignoring demands to halt island-building projects in the area.

     Sending the missions within 12 nautical miles of their coastlines, the internationally recognized territorial waters for natural islands, could be the "next step," Defense Department spokesman Steve Warren told reporters Thursday. Such moves would demonstrate freedom of navigation, Warren explained, without disclosing when or under what circumstances American craft could enter the waters.

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