US aircraft carriers in the South China Sea and why they anger Beijing

US aircraft carriers in the South China Sea and why they anger Beijing

The United States has deployed an aircraft carrier group led by the USS Ronald Reagan in the contested South China Sea for the third time this year, the US Navy said on Friday.

What happened?

The carrier strike group carried out flight operations, maritime strike exercises and tactical training.

Rear Admiral George Wikoff, commander of the carrier strike group, said in a statement that the operations focused on “cooperation alongside our Indo-Pacific allies and partners in promoting regional stability”.

“Throughout our deployment, we continue our long tradition demonstrating the United States’ commitment to the lawful use of the seas and maintaining open access to the international commons,” he said.

Why does it matter?

Beijing claims most of the resource-rich South China Sea, but its claims overlap with those of several other nations in the region and it has been criticised for building military facilities on disputed islands and reefs. It has frequently objected to US exercises and operations in the South China Sea, claiming that Washington has carried out navigational hegemony and driven militarisation of the waterway by sending warships into the region.