BERLIN (Reuters) - A German frigate will set sail for Asia in August and, on its return journey, become the first German warship to cross the South China Sea since 2002, senior government officials in Berlin said on Tuesday.
The ship will not pass within what officials called the "12-nautical-mile", officials in the foreign and defence ministries added, in a reference to contested areas in the crowded sea.
China claims almost all the energy-rich waters of the South China Sea, where it has established military outposts on artificial islands.
The U.S. Navy regularly conducts "freedom of navigation" in which their vessels pass close by to some of these islands, asserting freedom of access to international waterways.
The United States regularly accuses Beijing of militarizing the South China Sea and trying to intimidate Asian neighbours who might want to exploit its extensive oil and gas reserves.
(Reporting by Sabine Siebold, editing by Thomas Escritt)