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article imageUS shows off power to China with exercises in South China Sea

By Ken Hanly     Jul 5, 2020 in World
The US Navy launched large drills in the South China Sea this Saturday. Two aircraft carriers were in the exercises. The exercises are meant to show that there is freedom of navigation even in areas claimed by China.
Drills were the largest by the US in recent years
The Wall Street Journal reported hundreds of jets, helicopters, and surveillance planes took off from the USS Ronald Reagan and the USS Nimitz.
The US Seventh Fleet said in a statement that the Nimitz Carrier Strike Force celebrated US Independence Day showing off ts unmatched power by conducting dual carrier operations in support of free and open Indo-Pacific. Capt. Todd Whalen, commodore, Destroyer Squadron Nine said: "The ships and Sailors in Destroyer Squadron Nine have been working hard to increase our tactical proficiency in long range maritime strike and anti-submarine warfare. On this Fourth of July at sea, it's a privilege to stand the watch with our teammates in Nimitz and Ronald Reagan Strike Groups to protect freedom of navigation and the free flow of commerce.”
The exercises are a show of force against China
China held its own drills over the weekend close to the Paracel Islands, a disputed archipelago that Vietnam and Taiwan claim as well as China. China has built up military and research facilities on the Paracel Islands as well as the Spratly Islands another disputed archipelago.These Chinese actions have angered the US.
Since back in 2015 the US has been launching what it calls Freedom of Navigation Operations (FONOP) in the South China Sea. This has increased tensions in the area. The FONOP operations usually involve US sailing a warship or ships near the contested archipelago. Inevitably, the operation evoke a sharp rebuke from China.
Chinese reaction to the recent FONOP
Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian said to the press Friday: “The fundamental cause of instability in the South China Sea is the large-scale military activities and flexing of muscles by some non-regional country that lies tens of thousands of miles away.”
The Bashi Channel issue
The Bashi Channel is a waterway just south of the island of Taiwan. It has turned into another hot spot exacerbating relations between China and the US. China regards Taiwan as part of China. Friday represented the 13th day in a row that US military aircraft flew over the Bashi China. The South China Morning Post claims that the US sent 6 large reconnaissance aircraft and two refueling tankers on the Friday mission. The US claims the planes are searching for Chinese submarines in the area.
More about US China relations, FONOP, US seventh fleet
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