United States sends carriers to South China Sea during Chinese drills

Beijing rejects Pentagon’s criticism of military drills in S. China Sea

This followed the Pentagon on Tuesday asserting that the Chinese exercises will further destabilise the situation in the South China Sea and violate an worldwide pact to avoid activities that would escalate disputes in the region.

The Paracels are a group of islands equidistant from the coast of China and Vietnam, claimed by both countries as well as Taiwan, and a regular source of tension.

"The Nimitz Carrier Strike Force celebrated Independence Day with unmatched sea power while deployed to the South China Sea conducting dual carrier operations and exercises in support of a free and open Indo-Pacific", The US Navy's Seventh Fleet said in a statement.

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

Two US aircraft carriers conducted exercises in the South China Sea, a spokesman for the US Navy said on Saturday after Washington anxious this week about Chinese military maneuvers around an archipelago of which Beijing, Vietnam and Taiwan dispute the sovereignty.

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He said "the Philippines has consistently protested violations of worldwide legal obligations and commitments, and strongly condemned the conduct of such activities in areas of the South China Sea within the Philippines's sovereignty, sovereign rights and jurisdictions, including waters off the Kalayaan islands and the Scarborough shoal".

In late June, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made it plain that Washington supports the stance of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) that Beijing "cannot be allowed to treat the South China Sea as its maritime empire".

The South China Sea is where China is pitted against smaller neighbors in multiple territorial disputes over islands, coral reefs and lagoons. The region is believed to have valuable oil and gas deposits.

According to the Navy, the last time two carriers were in the South China Sea together was September 2014, when the USS George Washington and USS Carl Vinson Carrier Strike Groups operated there and in the East China Sea.

The US-based Diplomat magazine, in its report, said that China's Ministry of Natural Resources, Ministry of Ecology and Environment, Ministry of Transport and China Coast Guard, in a joint statement released on April 1, had announced the commencement of an eight-month-long "Bihai 2020" (or "Blue Sea 2020") initiative. All activities conducted by any party near either island without prior consent from Vietnam hold no value, it has stressed. We oppose Beijing's illegal rights.

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