China criticizes joint US drilling in the South China Sea

BEIJING (AP) – China on Monday accused the United States of flexing its military muscles in the South China Sea by conducting joint exercises with two groups of US aircraft carriers in the strategic waterway.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said the exercises were carried out “completely out of the blue” and had compromised stability in the region.

“In this context, the United States has deliberately dispatched massive forces to conduct large-scale military exercises in the relevant waters of the South China Sea in order to build muscle,” Zhao said in a daily briefing.

The US Navy said over the weekend that the USS Nimitz and the USS Ronald Reagan, and the ships and aircraft accompanying them, carried out exercises “designed to maximize air defense capabilities and expand the range of long-range precision sea strikes from aircraft on board in a rapidly evolving area of ‚Äč‚Äčoperations.

China claims almost all of the South China Sea and regularly opposes any action by the United States military in the region. Five other governments claim all or part of the sea, through which about 5,000 billion dollars of goods are shipped each year.

China sought to consolidate its claim to the sea by building military bases on coral atolls, which has led the United States to navigate warships in the region in what it calls freedom missions of operation. Washington does not formally take a position on the region’s rival land claims, but is closely linked to many of the claimants and insists that the waters and air space above be free for all countries.

Source: AP News

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