FILE PHOTO: US Navy aircraft carrier USS Nimitz during the under-ravine of the South China Sea on July 7, 2020, Henry J. Fuel is sourced from Oil USNS Tippecan, which caters to the Kaiser-class fleet. Navy / Christopher Bosch / Handouts via RERES.
HANOI (Reuters) – For the second time in two weeks, the United States has deployed two aircraft carriers in the South China Sea, the US Navy said on Friday, accusing China and the United States of straining tension in the region.
The USS Nimitz and USS Ronald Reagan conducted operations and military exercises in the waterway fought between July 4 and July 6, according to US Navit’s statement and returned to the area on Friday.
“Nimitz and the Reagan Carrier Strike Group are operating in the South China Sea to reinforce our commitment to an independent and open Indo-Pacific wherever international law allows, in a rule-based international order and in our region To allies and partners, ”Nimitz commander Rear Admiral Jim Kirk said in the statement.
The statement said the carriers’ presence was not in response to political or world events, but currently relations between Washington and Beijing are strained by everything from new coronoviruses to Hong Kong trade.
Warm rhetoric is on the rise in the region, where Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam challenge nearly 90% of China’s sea share.
China conducted a military exercise earlier this month, with strong condemnation from both Vietnam and the Philippines, at the same time that the US Navy said the two carriers first crossed the waterway for the pre-planned exercise.
The US Navy says its carriers have long been practicing in the Western Pacific, including the South China Sea, which spans approximately 1,500 km (900 mi). At one recent point, there were three carriers in the United States territory.
About 3 trillion dollars of trade passes through the South China Sea every year. The US has accused China of trying to intimidate Asian neighbors who want to exploit their extensive oil and gas reserves.
Reporting by James Pearson; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore