The US military mentioned on Friday (January 29) that Chinese military flights in the South China Sea “at no time” over the past week presented some danger to the region’s US Navy aircraft carrier strike force, but matched Beijing’s trend of destabilizing and hostile conduct.
“The Theodore Roosevelt Carrier Strike Group closely monitored all People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) and Air Force (PLAAF) activity, and at no time did they pose a threat to U.S. Navy ships, aircraft, or sailors,” the Pacific Command of the U.S. military said in a release.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, a US official said the Chinese aircraft did not arrive within 250 nautical miles of the warships of the US Navy.
Almost all the energy-rich waters of the South China Sea, where military outposts on artificial islands have been built, are claimed by China. However, portions of the sea still have claims to Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam.
In the Sino-US alliance, the waters have been a flashpoint. China is routinely accused by the United States of militarizing the South China Sea and seeking to bully Asian neighbors who may wish to tap its vast deposits of oil and gas.
In exchange, China frequently bristles at US military involvement in the area, stating on Monday that such acts are not conducive to the region’s peace and stability.
The US Navy routinely performs what it terms “freedom of navigation” ship operations along several of the islands controlled by China, asserting freedom of entry to foreign waterways.
“The United States will continue to fly, sail and operate wherever international law allows, demonstrating resolve through our operational presence throughout the region,” Pacific Command said.