Pentagon confirms US warship sailed within 12 nautical miles of island claimed by China in disputed South China Sea, 'to challenge excessive maritime claims of parties that claim the Paracel Islands' - AFP
More: US Navy Pacific Fleet commander urges China to submit to international arbitration in territorial spat with Philippines, says rule of international law in South China Sea threatened by possible use of military force in dispute - @Reuters
The South China Sea is a marginal sea that is part of the Pacific Ocean, encompassing an area from the Singapore and Malacca Straits to the Strait of Taiwan of around 3,500,000 square kilometres (1,400,000 sq mi). The area's importance largely results from one-third of the world's shipping sailing through its waters and that it is believed to hold huge oil and gas reserves beneath its seabed.
It is located
south of mainland China, including the island of Taiwan, in the east;
east of Vietnam and Cambodia;
west of the Philippines;
east of the Malay peninsula and Sumatra, up to the Strait of Malacca in the west and
north of the Bangka–Belitung Islands and Borneo
The minute South China Sea Islands, collectively an archipelago, number in the hundreds. The sea and its mostly uninhabited islands are subject to competing claims of sovereignty by several countries. These claims are also reflected in the variety of names used for the islands and the sea.