A U.S. aircraft carrier has sailed through the disputed South China Sea in the latest show of America’s military might amid new territorial conflict involving China, Vietnam, the Philippines and Taiwan.
The South China Sea has been the subject of rising tensions between China and its smaller neighbors – and the U.S. said it would intervene and maintain the freedom of navigation operations in the disputed waters as China amped up its territorial claims.
On Tuesday the U.S. Navy flew a small group of Philippine generals, officials and journalists to the USS Ronald Reagan, where they watched fighter jets land and take off by catapult with thunderous blasts.
The patrol comes as Donald Trump claims he’s winning the trade war against China after global shares fell sharply on Monday when China let its currency sink to an 11-year low against the dollar, fueling concerns that Beijing was using the yuan as a weapon. Markets rebounded slightly by Tuesday morning after China bolstered the yuan.
The USS Ronald Reagan, a nuclear-powered carrier, brimmed with about 70 supersonic F18 jets, spy planes and helicopters, during its Tuesday journey to Manila.
Armed cruisers were on hand to keep watch a few miles away from the carrier.
Rear Adm. Karl Thomas says American military presence helps provide the security and stability that foster diplomatic talks.
‘The motto of this carrier is peace through strength’, Thomas said.
‘We just think that folks should follow the international law and our presence allows us to provide that security and stability in the background for these discussions to take place,’ he added.
He made the comment when asked by reporters what message the warship’s presence is sending amid new tensions from renewed disputes involving China and rival claimants including Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Taiwan and Brunei.
There has been on-and-off territorial conflicts for decades over the strategic waters, where a bulk of Asian and world commerce transits.
The beef escalated when China transformed seven disputed reefs into man-made islands in the Spratly chain and installed a missile-defense system, runways and hangers there.
While there’s tension with the territory, the U.S. and China too have a strained economic relationship.
On Monday the U.S. Treasury accused China as a currency manipulator, accusing Beijing of deliberately influencing the exchange rate between the yuan and the U.S. dollar to gain an ‘unfair competitive advantage in international trade.
The trade war with China began last year when Washington imposed 25 percent tariffs on $250billion worth of U.S. imports from China. China retaliated by placing elevated levies on billions of dollars of American products it buys, as per CNBC.
In recent months that tension went beyond trade and into the technology and security sectors with the U.S. blacklisting the company Huawei – making it difficult for the Chinese tech giant to do business with American companies.