On Thursday, Pentagon made a statement that two of the US B25 strategic bombers hovered nearby the artificial islands built by China in South China Sea.
Chinese ground controllers have contacted the hovering air crafts but the bombers paid no attention, instead, they continue with the operation. The mission to patrol these disputed islands is to a preparation for President Obama’s visit to the region to join the Asia-Pacific Summits.
The US president is expected to reaffirm the commitment of America to further freedom of navigation and air expedition in the area, Reuters reports.
In a report by NY Times, “the move was meant to reassure allies Japan, Vietnam and the Philippines that US would stand up to China’s effort unilaterally change facts on the ground by building up artificial islands in Spratly Islands chain”.
However, the mission to patrol Spratly Islands chain was not to provoke the China to avoid the outbreak of conflict between nations. The mission was not publicized, and there was no formal announcement of the Lassen’s whereabouts. The White House officials were also instructed not to give any statements regarding the mission.
The Islands in the South China Sea in which China considered its territory have also been disputed by several countries, namely Vietnam, Malaysia, Philippines, and Brunei. Although these Asian countries including China wants sovereignty over South China Sea’s fragmented islands, China claims control most of it.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman, Hong Lei, when questioned about occurrence, pointed out that China complies with International Law by respecting all countries to exercise freedom of navigation in the South China Sea. He added, “We resolutely oppose any country, in the name of freedom of navigation and overflight, harming and violating international law, harming China’s sovereignty and security interests.”
However, Reuters reports that just last month, US launched one of its warships with the freedom of navigation patrol to challenge territorial limits around one of China man-made islands, but China responded angrily.
The White House is not yet certain if the case on South China Sea will be formally be part of the agenda at any of the three Asia summits. Obama is scheduled to attend APEC in Manila in which Chinese President Xi Jinping will be present.