Two US carriers, flanked by a number of other, smaller boats, arrived in the South China Sea last week to conduct drills following days of Chinese
Two US carriers, flanked by a number of other, smaller boats, arrived in the South China Sea last week to conduct drills following days of Chinese forces also carrying out exercises.
It’s understood that the two carriers are the USS Nimitz and the USS Ronald Reagan, both of which have been conducting military exercises including fighter jet launches.
CNN reports it’s the first time in six years that two US aircraft carriers are in the South China Sea.
But the show of military might comes less than a week after the US urged China and others in the region to “not undertake military activities” that could increase tensions in the area.
In a statement that goes completely the other way, the US Navy said on July 4 that “nothing celebrates freedom like launching fighter jets in the middle of the ocean at night”.
The exercises on that occasion coincided with the US national Independence Day celebrations.
Last week, the US Department of Defence (DoD) issued a statement in which it voiced concern over China’s decision to conduct military exercises in the Paracel Islands between July 1 and July 5.
It claimed that the waters in which the military exercises took place were part of disputed territory, and that China’s actions therefore threatened efforts to ease tensions in the area.
The DoD said: “Conducting military exercises over disputed territory in the South China Sea is counterproductive to efforts at easing tensions and maintaining stability. The PRC’s [People’s Republic of China] actions will further destabilise the situation in the South China Sea.
“Such exercises also violate PRC commitments under the 2002 Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea to avoid activities that would complicate or escalate disputes and affect peace and stability.
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“China’s military training in the waters surrounding the Xisha Islands is within China’s sovereignty and beyond reproach.”
The foreign affairs official added that the South China Sea situation is “generally stable” and that the US’ recent actions in the area were “out of ulterior motives”.
As part of the US Navy’s military exercises, crew aboard the two Nimitz class carriers conducted simulations of enemy attacks.
The Navy added that the tactical exercises would “extend the reach of long range precision maritime strikes”.
The exercises also saw a fly-over of a B-52 bomber that came to the area from Louisiana in the US on a mission lasting over a day.
The last time the two carriers operated in the South China Sea at the same time was in 2014, and again in 2001, CNN adds.
The two US carriers can each carry more than 60 aircraft.