China claims virtually the entire South China Sea and strongly objects to military activity.
The 7th Fleet based in Japan said Sunday that the USS Nimitz aircraft carrier strike group and the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit have been conducting "integrated expeditionary strike force operations” in the South China Sea.
It said exercises involving ships, ground forces and aircraft took place Saturday but gave no details on when the began or whether they had ended.
China claims virtually the entire South China Sea and strongly objects to military activity by other nations in the contested waterway through which $5 trillion in goods are shipped every year.
The US takes no official position on sovereignty in the South China Sea, but maintains that freedom of navigation and overflight must be preserved. Several times a year, it sends ships sailing past fortified Chinese outposts in the Spratly Islands, prompting furious protests from Beijing.
The US takes no official position on sovereignty in the South China Sea.
The US has also been strengthening its defense alliance with the Philippines, which has faced encroachment on islands and fisheries by the Chinese coast guard and nominally civilian but government-backed fleets.
The US military exercises were planned in advance. They come as already tense relations between Washington and Beijing have been exacerbated by a diplomatic row sparked by the balloon, which was shot down last weekend in US airspace off the coast of South Carolina.
The US said the unmanned balloon was equipped to detect and collect intelligence signals, but Beijing insists it was a weather research airship that had accidently blown off course.
The incident prompted Secretary of State Antony Blinken to abruptly cancel a high-stakes trip to Beijing last weekend aimed at easing tensions.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks during a meeting. File photo
After first issuing a highly rare expression of regret over the incident, China has toughened its rhetoric, calling the US move an overreaction and a violation of international norms. China's defense minister refused to take a phone call from US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin to discuss the matter.
The United States has since blacklisted six Chinese entities it said were linked to Beijing’s aerospace programs as part of its response to the incident. The House of Representatives also voted unanimously to condemn China for a "brazen violation” of US sovereignty and efforts to "deceive the international community through false claims about its intelligence collection campaigns”.
The balloon was part of a large surveillance program that China has been conducting for several years, the Pentagon said. The US says Chinese balloons have flown over dozens of countries across five continents in recent years, and it learned more about the balloon program after closely monitoring the one shot down near South Carolina.
In its news release, the 7th Fleet said the joint operation had "established a powerful presence in the region, which supports peace and stability."
"As a ready response force, we underpin a broad spectrum of missions including landing Marines ashore, humanitarian disaster relief, and deterring potential adversaries through visible and present combat power," the release said.
A US carrier group led by the USS Theodore Roosevelt entered the South China Sea on Saturday to promote “freedom of the seas,” the US military said, days after Joe Biden began his term as president.
China has urged the US military to “stop flexing muscles” in the disputed South China Sea. A spokesman for the Chinese ministry of defense told reporters in Bangkok
Malaysia needs to boost its naval capabilities to prepare for possible conflict in the South China Sea, its foreign minister said on Thursday, even as Southeast Asia’s third-largest economy pursues non-militarisation of the disputed waterway.
Led by Florida Democrat Stephanie Murphy, the delegation met on Thursday morning with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen, whose administration China has relentlessly sought to deprive of diplomatic recognition and participation in international organizations.
The Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (MoHRE) revealed that approximately 5.73 million employees have subscribed to the Unemployment Insurance Scheme since it went into effect on Jan.1, 2023, up until Sept.25, 2023.
Sheikh Hamdan inaugurated the third edition of the Dubai World Congress for Self-Driving Transport and honoured the winners of the Dubai World Challenge for Self-Driving Transport.
She added that immediately after the operation, she had severe bleeding and blood accumulation in the neck, after which she was admitted to intensive care for two days.