- The US Navy again has two carrier strike groups that conduct operations with two carriers in the South China Sea.
- For the second time in two weeks, the strikes of carriers Nimitz and Ronald Reagan train together in the strategic waterway.
- The exercises, which the Navy says are unrelated to current events, take place in a week in which the United States and China have exchanged beards over the South China Sea.
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For the second time in two weeks, the U.S. Navy has two carrier strike groups that are conducting two carrier operations in the South China Sea, a waterway on which the United States and China have recently traded blows.
Over the weekend of July 4, two Navy aircraft carrier strike groups led by the USS Nimitz and the USS Ronald Reagan trained together in the South China Sea. The last time the Navy had two carriers operating together in the South China Sea was almost six years ago.
Carrier strike groups Nimitz and Ronald Reagan have come together again to continue operations at two high-end carriers, the Navy announced on Friday.
“Nimitz and Reagan Carrier Strike Groups operate in the South China Sea, where international law allows, to strengthen our commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific, a rules-based international order, and to our allies and partners in the region, ”the commander of the Nimitz Carrier Strike Group, Rear Admiral Jim Kirk, said in a statement.
The Navy noted that the carrier’s operations were not linked to current events, but the carrier’s activities occurred in particular at a time of heightened tension with China.
The Chinese foreign ministry accused the United States earlier this month of flexing its muscles to “undermine peace and stability in the South China Sea.” This week, the Department of Foreign Affairs criticized the United States for sending “large fleets of advanced military ships and planes to the South China Sea to flex muscles and cause unrest.”
On Tuesday, USS Ralph Johnson, one of the destroyers sailing with the Nimitz Carrier Strike Group, conducted a freedom of navigation operation in the disputed Spratly Islands, challenging certain navigation restrictions imposed by China and other requesting states.
Prior to the Navy’s freedom of navigation operation, at least the sixth of this year, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo released a statement on Monday announcing that the United States was aligning its policy on the South China Sea with a decision of the 2016 International Arbitration Tribunal and formally rejecting many Chinese claims to the disputed waterway.
“Beijing’s claims about offshore resources in most of the South China Sea are completely illegal, as is its campaign to intimidate them,” he said. “The predatory worldview of the PRC has no place in the 21st century. ”
The Chinese foreign ministry has called the US statement on the South China Sea “irresponsible.”
“It violates and distorts international law, deliberately incites territorial and maritime disputes and undermines regional peace and stability,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said on Tuesday.
The South China Sea, long a hot spot, has become a flash point again in recent months, the United States having intensified its military activities in response to “opportunistic activity in the PRC” to take advantage of the COVID crisis- 19 and “coerce” its neighbors and assert its illegal maritime claims in the South China Sea, “the Pentagon had previously said.
The global coronavirus crisis that started in China but has since spread to the United States due to domestic mismanagement has triggered an increase in US-China tensions, causing problems in bilateral relations.