WPMNews.com – Two US B-52 bombers flew near contested islands in the South China Sea earlier this week. This was revealed by the US Pacific Air Force.
“Two US Air Force B-52H Stratofortress bombers left the Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, and participated in routine training missions around the South China Sea,” the US Pacific Air Force said in a statement.
“The recent mission is consistent with international law and the long-term commitment of the United States to the free and open Indo-Pacific,” the statement added as quoted by CNN on Thursday (11/22/2018).
While the US routinely flies its bomb planes around the LCS as part of a long-standing “Continuous Bomber Presence” mission, Beijing is very sensitive to the presence of US military forces near areas where the Chinese government has built islands and established military features disputed maritime affairs.
In September, a Chinese warship arrived within 45 meters of the destroyer USS Decatur, forcing US ships to maneuver to avoid a collision. The US Navy labeled China’s actions as unsafe and unprofessional.
The incident occurred when USS Decatur carried out “Operation Freedom of Navigation,” which involved shipping in 12 nautical miles of Gaven and Johnson reefs in the Spratly Islands.
The US has accused China of deploying anti-ship missiles, electronic jammers, and surface-to-air missiles to contested islands in the South China Sea.
“The placement of the missiles gives Beijing the potential to use national control over international and air waters where more than three trillion dollars in goods travel each year,” said US Navy chief Phil Davidson, commander of the US Indo-Pacific Command, at the Halifax International Security Forum in Nova Scotia.
“(People’s Republic of China) said they militarized these features to defend China’s sovereignty, but in doing so they are now violating the sovereignty of each country’s ability to fly, sail and operate in accordance with international law – the right of all countries to trade, communicate, to send their financial information, to send their communications via submarine cables, “Davidson added.
But despite tensions between Beijing and Washington, Chinese authorities recently gave US Navy aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan permission to make port calls in Hong Kong, two US defense officials told CNN.
China canceled a visit to the Hong Kong port by the USS Wasp amphibious assault ship last September. [dn]