South China Sea: Military exercises ‘must continue’ says expert
Beijing’s claim over the region overlaps with those of six other countries and is rejected by the United States. On Sunday the USS Makin Island and USS Somerset entered the contested area according to the South China Sea Probing Initiative (SCSPI).
The SCSPI is a Beijing based think tank which tracks western military movements in the South China Sea.
Graphics produced by the group show the former arrived south of Taiwan whilst the later came via the Philippines.
Shortly after Chinese warships conducted an “unscripted” live-fire training exercise, using long-range weapons, according to js7tv, a news site affiliated to Beijing’s military.
The Enshi, Yongzhou and Guangyuan, all Type 056A corvettes in the Chinese navy, took part in the operation.
The report from js7tv claims the Chinese exercise included the destruction of a mock enemy ship and missile interception tests.
It was accompanied by video showing Chinese warships firing live ammunition during the event.
The US, and other western powers, refuse to accept Beijing’s claim of sovereignty over the South China Sea.
To demonstrate this they regularly send warships on ‘freedom of navigation’ patrols through the contested waters.
Global Times, a Chinese communist party run newspaper, condemned the latest American moves as “muscle-flexing”.
It said: “China should be prepared to confront the U.S. in the South China Sea and Taiwan Straits no matter who sits in the White House.”
According to Newsweek US spy planes have also been reported flying over the contested territory.
Acting US defence secretary Christopher Miller is currently embarked on a tour of Asia.
He was in Indonesia on Monday and the next day went on to visit the Philippines.
Mr Millier was appointed to his position last month after President Trump sacked Mark Esper, his predecessor.
President elect Joe Biden has announced retired US general Lloyd Austin will be the next defence secretary.
However, this would require a congressional waver as General Austin only retired in 2016.
Without authorisation from Congress a gap of seven years is required between an officer serving and becoming military chief.
If confirmed to the post General Austin will become the first African-American defence secretary in United States history.
Explaining his choice in The Atlantic magazine Mr Biden wrote: “I’ve spent countless hours with him, in the field and in the White House Situation Room.
“I’ve sought his advice, seen his command, and admired his calm and his character.
“He is the definition of a patriot.”
Tensions between China and the US increased sharply during Trump’s presidency over trade, coronavirus, Hong Kong, human rights, Taiwan and the South China Sea.