Two US aircraft carriers carried out exercises in the disputed South China Sea on Saturday and China also carried out maneuvers that have been criticized by the Pentagon and neighboring states.
USS Nimitz and USS Ronald Reagan conducted operations and exercises in the South China Sea “to support a free and open Indo-Pacific,” a statement from the US Navy said.
He did not say exactly where the exercises were taking place in the South China Sea, which stretches 1,500 km (900 miles) and 90 percent of which is claimed by China despite protests from its neighbors.
“The purpose is to show an unequivocal signal to our partners and allies that we are committed to regional security and stability,” said Rear Admiral George M Wikoff, as quoted by the Wall Street Journal, which first reported on the exercises.
China and the United States have accused each other of fueling tension on the strategic waterway at a time of strained relations over everything from the coronavirus to trade with Hong Kong.
Oil and gas reserves
Wikoff, commander of the strike group led by Ronald Reagan, said the exercises were not a response to those carried out by China, which the Pentagon criticized this week as “counterproductive to efforts to ease tensions and maintain stability.”
China on Friday rejected the United States’ criticism of its drills and suggested that the United States is to blame for the increased tensions.
US carriers have long exercised in the western Pacific, including in the South China Sea. At a recent time, the United States had three aircraft carriers in the region.
China announced last week that it had scheduled five days of drills beginning July 1 near the Paracel Islands, which are claimed by both Vietnam and China.
Vietnam and the Philippines have also criticized the planned Chinese drills, warning that they could create tension in the region and impact Beijing’s relationship with its neighbors.
The United States accuses China of trying to intimidate Asian neighbors who want to exploit its extensive oil and gas reserves. Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan, and Vietnam also claim parts of the South China Sea, through which about $ 3 trillion of trade passes each year.
The United States statement said the naval exercises gave commanders the flexibility and capabilities “that only the United States Navy can command.”
In 2016, an international ruled that China has without legal basis for their claims to sovereignty over the South China Sea. TThe Permanent Court of Arbitration China said “nine stroke line“Territorial claims, which cover most of the South China Sea, will not be recognized by international law.
Beijing rejected the ruling and has continued to build islands under its control.