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US Aircraft Carrier Operations in South China Sea ‘Send Wrong Signal to Philippines’

Recent US aircraft carrier operations in the South China Sea encouraged the Philippines in its escalated provocations over Chinese islands and reefs in the region, with experts saying on Monday that the US again demonstrated its role as a troublemaker in the region.

The USS Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier conducted flight operations featuring the F/A-18E Super Hornet carrier-based fighter jet in the South China Sea on Saturday, according to photo reports published on Sunday by the Defense Visual Information Distribution Service affiliated with the US Department of Defense.

Media on the island of Taiwan reported on Sunday that the US carrier sailed past waters about 40 nautical miles southwest of China’s Huangyan Island. It posed a threat to the Chinese islands and reefs in the South China Sea.

Mao Ning, a spokesperson of China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said at a regular press conference on Monday that the Philippines’ infringement and provocation at Ren’ai Jiao (also Ren’ai Reef) have been emboldened and supported by the US’s connivance and support. For quite some time, China and the Philippines have managed the situation at Ren’ai Jiao through communication relatively well and reached understandings. Since the beginning of this year, however, the US has been blatantly emboldening the Philippines’ acts of infringing upon China’s sovereignty and inciting and supporting the Philippines attempts to repair and reinforce its warship that was deliberately “grounded” on Ren’ai Jiao. The US even sent over military aircraft and vessels to assist and support the Philippines, and repeatedly sought to threaten China by citing the US-Philippines Mutual Defense Treaty. What the US does has considerably bolstered the Philippines as it infringes upon China’s sovereignty and makes provocation at Ren’ai Jiao and had egregious impacts. 

The US aircraft activities in the South China Sea came at a time when the Philippines has been repeatedly making provocations over China’s islands and reefs in the region, including Huangyan Island, Ren’ai Jiao and Zhongye Island since August.

Mao stressed that Ren’ai Jiao is a bilateral issue between China and the Philippines, noting that the US has no place in it.

On Sunday, Philippine vessels again trespassed into waters off Ren’ai Jiao to transport illegal building materials to reinforce an illegally grounded warship on the reef, making dangerous approaches to Chinese vessels and leading to bumps as the China Coast Guard intercepted them.

One of the reasons why the Philippines has been ramping up provocations is that the country thinks it has the US at its back, a Beijing-based military expert who requested anonymity told the Global Times on Monday.

The US aircraft carrier’s presence in the South China Sea sent a wrong signal to the Philippines and incited more of its aggressive moves on the Chinese islands and reefs, the expert said.

The US recently accused China of “conducting centralized, concerted campaign of harassment of aircraft,” but the latest US aircraft carrier operations on China’s doorsteps again proved that it is the US military that is making these provocations in the first place, and China’s countermeasures are rightful and professional, the expert said.

Observers said that the Philippines should realize that the US military is not reliable, as the US will not fight for the national interests of the Philippines, and US forces including aircraft carriers are vulnerable on China’s doorstep due to China’s rapid national defense development.

China once again urges the Philippines to take China’s strong concerns seriously, honor its commitments, stop making provocations at sea, stop its dangerous moves and stop attacking and smearing China. We urge the Philippines to tow away the illegally “grounded” warship as soon as possible and refrain from undermining peace and stability in the South China Sea and damaging the common interests of regional countries, said Mao Ning on Monday.

China will continue to take necessary measures in accordance with domestic and international law and firmly safeguard China’s territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests, Mao said.

Source : GlobalTimes