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U.S. moves two aircraft carriers to South China Sea

The United States is sending two aircraft carriers to the South China Sea at the same time China is conducting military exercises in the contested waterway, The Wall Street Journal reported.

The USS Ronald Reagan and USS Nimitz would be in the South China Sea from Saturday, the U.S. news outlet quoted the strike group commander as saying.

Committed to stability

“The purpose is to show an unambiguous signal to our partners and allies that we are committed to regional security and stability,” Rear Admiral George M. Wikoff was quoted as saying.

He said the exercises were not a response to those being conducted by China, which the Pentagon criticised this week as “counter-productive to efforts at easing tensions and maintaining stability”. China dismissed the criticism on Friday, suggesting the U.S. was to blame for increasing tensions. General Wikoff did not give the location of the U.S. exercises. The Wall Street Journal said they would be conducted by the two carriers and four other warships and would include round-the-clock flights.

China announced last week it had scheduled five days of drills, starting July 1, near the Paracel Islands, which are claimed by both Vietnam and China.

Vietnam and the Philippines also criticised the planned Chinese drills, warning they could create tension in the region and impact Beijing’s relationship with its neighbours.

Claims on sea

The U.S. accuses China of miniaturising the South China Sea and trying to intimidate Asian neighbours, who might want to exploit its extensive oil and gas reserves.

China claims 90% of the potentially energy-rich South China Sea, but Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam also lay claim to parts of it, through which about $3 trillion of trade passes each year.

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Printable version | Aug 9, 2020 8:06:50 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/us-moves-two-aircraft-carriers-to-south-china-sea/article31991018.ece

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