One day after the United States Navy’s aircraft carrier, “The Reagan” arrived in Hong Kong, the U.S continued to flex its military muscle by flying two B-52 bombers over disputed islands in the South China Sea.
The aircraft carrier is based in Yokosuka, Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan and is on port call in Hong Kong. Two months earlier, China denied a request from the U.S. to go to Hong Kong in what was believed to be Beijing’s response to worsening trade relations with Washington.
The Reagan was accompanied by the USS Chancellorsville and the USS Curtis Wilbur. Both destroyers are equipped with a guided-missile system.
The warship is on a goodwill mission in the city of Hong Kong. While stationed, military officials and personnel plan to engage local citizens through sporting competitions and community-based projects. The Reagan last visited Hong Kong in 2017.
The show of military might may be part of the White House’s strategy to tilt the balance of power in favour of U.S. President Donald Trump who is scheduled to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the G20 summit at Buenos Aires from November 30 to December 1.
Military tensions between the United States and China have been building up for some time now.
The U.S. Air Force reported that it instructed its Guam-based bombers to conduct training drills over the South China Sea one week earlier.
China has become increasingly infuriated by the United States’ apparent disregard over its claims on the disputed islands.
The United States, as well as Australia, Japan, Germany, South Korea, and the United Kingdom have questioned China’s increasing military presence in the South China Sea.
China has militarized several of the man-made islands by installing anti-shop cruise missiles and surface-to-air missiles. Beijing claims that the weapons are there purely for defensive purposes.
Military and political analysts believe the militarization of those islands has given China the ability to assert its control over international waters where more than US$3 Trillion worth of trade go through every year.
The situation has been exacerbated by Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s apparent willingness to completely surrender the islands to the Chinese despite the Philippines being the beneficiary of the Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration ruling that it has complete territorial control over the islands.