Mar 15, 2019 07:39 UTC
  • US sends bombers near Chinese islands in disputed waters for second time this month

The US has flown a pair of nuclear-capable bombers over the South China Sea for the second time this month despite Beijing’s calls on Washington to respect its sovereignty in the strategic disputed waterway.

According to Press TV, the Pacific Air Forces (PACAF) said in statement that two B-52 bombers flew near the disputed islands in the South China Sea on Wednesday.

"Two B-52H Stratofortress bombers took off from Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, and conducted routine training in the vicinity of the South China Sea March 13, 2019 (HST), before returning to base," said a PACAF spokesperson.

"US aircraft regularly operate in the South China Sea in support of allies, partners, and a free and open Indo-Pacific," the spokesperson added, without commenting on bomber payloads and their nuclear capabilities.

It was the second time this month that US carried out such flight in the area. The former flight took place on March 6.

The bombers, capable of carrying and launching nuclear weapons, also flew over the East and South China Seas in September and November 2018 respectively.

The US also sends its warships close to the islands in what it call “freedom of navigation” patrols.

China has constantly warned Washington that close military encounters by air and naval forces of the two countries in the region could easily trigger miscalculation or even accidents at sea or in air.

The sea, which is a gateway for trillions of dollars in maritime trade each year, is also claimed by Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, Taiwan and Brunei.

The US – which sides with China’s rivals in their territorial claims -- says such military operations are meant to protect “freedom of navigation” in the sea.