USS Nimitz and USS Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Groups are conducting bilateral carrier operations in the Philippine Sea and the South China Sea, “said Seventh Fleet spokesman Lieutenant Joe Jeiley.” Operating two carrier strike groups in the Philippine Sea and South provides the China Sea with advanced training opportunities for our forces and provides significant operational flexibility to combat commanders in response to regional forces.
“The presence of the two carriers does not respond to any political or world events. This advanced talent is one of many ways that the US Navy can increase security, stability and prosperity throughout the Indo-Pacific.”
“America agrees with our Southeast Asian friends: the PRC’s military exercise in the controversial waters of the South China Sea is extremely provocative. We are against Beijing’s illegal claims,” Foreign Minister Mike Pompeo said on Friday.
The Pentagon said on Thursday that China’s “military exercises” are the latest in a long PRC action to make illegal maritime claims and disadvantage Southeast Asian neighbors in Southeast Asia.
The Paracel Islands are in demand by China, Vietnam and Taiwan, and the United States has long said that Beijing has militarized the islands in the South China Sea through the establishment of military equipment and the construction of military facilities.
Officials said the US military exercises will not be held near any of the controversial islands in the region.
While the U.S. Navy routinely operates in the area, the operation of two nuclear-powered aircraft carriers (USS Nimitz and USS Ronald Reagan) is a key indicator of strength and comes with increasing tensions in a number of areas between Washington and Beijing, including Hong Kong.
This story has been updated with additional information.