- US carrier strike group now doing patrols in South China Sea
- Commander said they want to showcase US Navy’s capabilities while forging stronger ties with allies
- China earlier warned against US attempt to undermine its sovereignty in the area
MANILA, Philippines – Days after a strong China warning, the US Navy announced the commencement of a powerful carrier strike group’s “routine patrol” in the hotly-contested South China Sea.
The strike group, composed of the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson and the guided missile destroyer USS Wayne E. Meyer, first visited Guam, traversed through the Marianas and the Philippine Sea before finally reaching the South China Sea.
The strike group’s commander Rear Admiral James Kilby said the US aims to showcase the strength of its navy while building better ties with its allies in the region.
“The training completed over the past few weeks has really brought the team together and improved our effectiveness and readiness as a strike group,” he said in a statement in the US Navy’s website. “We are looking forward to demonstrating those capabilities while building upon existing strong relationships with our allies, partners and friends in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.”
Earlier, China’s Foreign Ministry — in response to the planned patrols — issued a warning against attempts by “any country” to undermine its sovereignty in the South China Sea.
“China respects and upholds the freedom of navigation and overflight in the South China Sea, which countries enjoy under international law, but firmly opposes any country’s attempt to undermine China’s sovereignty and security in the name of the freedom of navigation and overflight,” Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said.
China is embroiled in a territorial dispute with its neighbors over the resource-rich and strategically important South China Sea. It has also railed against perceived US interference in a dispute it has described as “internal”.