US carrier drills in disputed South China Sea as Beijing closes waters for own exercises (PHOTOS)
USS Ronald Reagan has conducted demonstrative flight operations training to promote ‘peace through strength’ in the South China Sea, next to disputed strategic atolls where China has been holding its own military drills.
To showcase the strike group’s capabilities, the US Navy has airlifted a small group of Philippine officers to the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier on Tuesday. The military brass of the island nation, which has been reluctant to side with US in any open confrontation with China, were treated to maneuvers by the Reagan’s air wing, comprised of about 70 F/A-18 jets, spy planes and helicopters.
The provocative ‘freedom of navigation’ stunt in the area Beijing repeatedly warned Washington to stay clear of took place just as China launched its own two-day military exercises near the disputed Paracel Islands. China’s Maritime Safety Administration issued multiple warnings about closed waters, but shared no additional details of the planned drills.
China has repeatedly claimed sovereignty over certain islets and reefs and adjacent waters, and has taken steps to protect its claims by setting up defense installations in the area, also claimed by the Philippines, Vietnam, Indonesia and Malaysia. However, Beijing has always said that it was open to resolving any disputes with neighbors through direct negotiation, without outside influence or interference.Also on rt.com ‘Want trouble? You first!’ Philippines’ Duterte dares US to bring its fleet & declare war on China
Amid escalating trade tensions and US commitments to advance their interests in the Indo-Pacific region, last month the Chinese military published a white paper making it explicitly clear that the People’s Liberation Army is ready to fight to defend country’s sovereignty.Also on rt.com China to build ‘world-class’ military in new strategy as US ‘stirs up rivalry’ between major powers
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