China slams US for sending aircraft carriers to disputed sea
Beijing has slammed the United States for sending its aircraft carriers to the disputed waters of South China Sea, where the Chinese military was holding naval drills, saying the provocative move is aimed at driving a wedge between regional countries.
According to Press TV, addressing a press briefing on Monday, China’s Foreign Ministry Spokesman Zhao Lijian said Washington had “deliberately” sent the USS Ronald Reagan and USS Nimitz aircraft carriers to the South China Sea to “flex its muscles.”
The Americans, he added, “have ulterior motives. The US is creating division among nations in the region and militarizing the South China Sea,” nine tenths of which is claimed by China.
The two US carriers arrived in the region on Saturday for “military exercises” as China was wrapping up its own naval drills near the disputed Xisha Islands, called Paracel Islands by China’s rivals, who have overlapping sovereignty claims to the resource-rich sea.
Speaking to Reuters on Monday, the Commander of the USS Nimitz, Rear Admiral James Kirk, said the two American aircraft carriers were conducting “exercises” in the contested sea within sight of Chinese naval vessels spotted near the US navy’s flotilla.
“They have seen us and we have seen them,” Kirk said.
The US military said on Twitter that B52 bombers were also involved in the exercise.
Earlier, Rear Admiral George Wikoff, commander of the strike group led by the USS Ronald Reagan, said the military move was to “show an unambiguous signal to our partners and allies that we are committed to regional security and stability.”
Apparently reacting to the deployment, China on Friday slammed “non-regional countries” for traveling a long distance to conduct large-scale military activities in the South China Sea, stressing that such provocative moves in Chinese territorial waters were the source of tensions and instability in the region.
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, a gateway for trillions of dollars in maritime trade each year.