According to CNN, a Chinese aircraft carrier has entered the region, while the U.S. and Philippines are planning joint drills. The War Zone had been the first to report over the weekend that both countries had carrier groups assembled in the South China Sea.
China’s Liaoning Carrier Strike Group (CSG) maneuvered through the Miyako Strait on Sunday, the War Zone said, while the separate dispute over the presence of Chinese vessels in the South China Sea led to “a series of heated diplomatic exchanges between Manila and Beijing.”
The U.S. ships, meanwhile, included the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt and amphibious assault ship USS Makin Island, CNN said.
China claims the ships it has in the South China Sea are maritime vessels, but the Philippines are concerned that they are actually run by China’s maritime militia.
“This expeditionary strike force fully demonstrates that we maintain a combat-credible force, capable of responding to any contingency, deter aggression, and provide regional security and stability in support of a free and open Indo-Pacific,” U.S. Navy Capt. Stewart Bateshansky, of the Amphibious Squadron 3, said an announcement.
“Combining the capabilities of the carrier strike group with those of the Makin Island Amphibious Ready Group sharpens our tactical skills and demonstrates our continued dedication to the security and prosperity of the Indo-Pacific,” U.S. Rear Adm. Doug Verissimo, commander, Carrier Strike Group Nine, said in the same release.
“The combined Navy and Marine Corps team has been a stabilizing force in this region for more than a century and will continue to support all who share in the collective vision of peace, stability, and freedom of the seas.”
The exercises, the release said, entailed tactical maneuvering, and establishing joint command and control communications.
Reuters said last week that the exercises between the United States and the Philippines would last for about two weeks. The exercise typically takes place annually, but were postponed last year due to the coronavirus pandemic. The exercises, known as “Balikatan” (Shoulder-to-Shoulder), will be “scaled down” for past years, however. They will involve 700 troops from the United States and 1,000 from the Philippines.
One analyst told CNN that Liaoning’s presence in the South China Sea isn’t an unusual thing in the spring, due to weather conditions that are ideal for training.
The South China Sea is a place where there are numerous territorial disputes among several different countries. The Spratly Islands, in particular, are the subject of claims by China, Taiwan, Malaysia, Vietnam, Brunei and the Philippines.
Stephen Silver, a technology writer for The National Interest, is a journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to The Philadelphia Inquirer, Philly Voice, Philadelphia Weekly, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Living Life Fearless, Backstage magazine, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver. Image: Reuters.