The U.S. Navy's USS Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier is anchored In Hong Kong, Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2018. The USS Reagan docked in Hong Kong on Wednesday, days after a pair of American B-52 bombers flew over the disputed South China Sea. (
Journalists and navy sailors gather on the deck of the U.S. Navy USS Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier in Hong Kong, Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2018. The USS Reagan docked in Hong Kong on Wednesday, days after a pair of American B-52 bombers flew over the disputed South China Sea.
The U.S. Navy's USS Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier is anchored In Hong Kong, Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2018. The USS Reagan docked in Hong Kong on Wednesday, days after a pair of American B-52 bombers flew over the disputed South China Sea. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)
HONG KONG (AP) — A U.S. aircraft carrier docked in Hong Kong on Wednesday, days after a pair of American B-52 bombers flew over the disputed South China Sea.
The arrival of the USS Ronald Reagan and its battle group in the Asian financial hub is being seen as a friendly gesture ahead of a planned meeting later this month between President Donald Trump and Chinese leader Xi Jinping. That will mark the first time they’ve sat down together since the start of a bitter trade war and amid tensions over the South China Sea.
China has demanded the U.S. cease military activity of all kind near its South China Sea island claims that it has been rapidly fortifying. The U.S. says it takes no stance on sovereignty claims, but will continue to sail and operate wherever international law permits.
In late September, a Chinese destroyer came close to the USS Decatur in the South China Sea in what the U.S. Navy called an “unsafe and unprofessional maneuver.”
Asked to comment Wednesday on the incident, Rear Adm. Karl O. Thomas, commander of Carrier Strike Group 5, said the “vast majority of our interactions out there at sea are very professional.”
“That was a rare, unusual occurrence,” Thomas told reporters at a ship-board news conference. “In that particular case, the ship made some aggressive, continuing aggressive maneuvers and our ship warned them and had to maneuver to prevent a collision. It was unfortunate and I’d like to see that not happen again.”
The Navy said in a statement that during the Reagan’s visit, interactions will take place with Hong Kong citizens through sports, community relations projects and tours of the carrier. More than 4,400 men and women are usually aboard the ship.
The Reagan’s visit comes two months after China rejected a similar request by another U.S. Navy ship amid a spike in tensions between the countries’ militaries.
And while the port call is seen as a positive for bilateral relations, other events this week point to the ongoing rivalry between the sides.
U.S. Pacific Air Forces said two B-52 bombers flew over the South China Sea on Monday, calling it a “routine training mission.”
The B-52H Stratofortress bombers departed Andersen Air Force Base in Guam as part of the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command’s Continuous Bomber Presence operations that began in 2004, Pacific Air Forces said in a statement Wednesday.
“This recent mission is consistent with international law and United States’ long-standing commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific,” the statement said.
Also this week, the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies, or CSIS, reported that China had installed a new platform on Bombay Reef, a remote undeveloped feature in the Chinese-controlled Paracel Islands in the South China Sea. Vietnam and Taiwan also claim the reef.
The platform appears to be topped with a radome and solar panels, and its strategic location makes it likely it is intended to extend China’s radar or signals intelligence collection in the area, the report said. Bombay Reef already has a lighthouse to serve as an aid to navigation.
Unlike China’s large man-made islands created by piling sand on top of coral reefs, installing the modestly sized Bombay Reef platform did not require inflicting major environmental damage, CSIS said. However, that illustrates how easily China could expand its footprint to other features such as Scarborough Shoal, which it seized from the Philippines in 2012, it added.
Compared to dredging and reclamation, the installation of a modest platform would be “harder to prevent at the time and more difficult to rally international condemnation against after the fact,” the report said.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said Wednesday at a daily news briefing in Beijing that he had no information about the details of the report, while reasserting China’s claims to the island group it calls Xisha.
“The Paracel Islands are China’s territory. This is indisputable. China’s construction on its own territory is beyond reproach,” Geng said.
kalo sampe kapal induk bisa berlabuh di hongkong dan mengundang komandan PLA hongkong ke atas kapal, berarti hubungan china USA mulai membaik, tdk seperti 2 bln yg lalu
hubungan china dgn philipin makin mesra, dgn perjanjian ekplorasi bersama tambang migas di wilayah sengketa, istilahnya pake jurus sambil dipeluk sambil dicengkram
kalo model ini dipake pada semua pihak yg bersengketa dgn china, maka USA makin frustasi di LCS
Beijing - Pemerintah Tiongkok menolak permintaan kunjungan salah satu kapal perang Amerika Serikat (AS) ke Hong Kong, bulan depan. Penolakan itu, dikonfirmasi oleh Konsulat Jenderal (Konjen) AS di Hong Kong, pada Selasa (25/9).
Menurut Konjen AS di Hong Kong, pemerintah Tiongkok tidak mengizinkan kapal perang Wasp ,sebuah kapal penyerang amfibi yang membawa kontingen Marinir, untuk masuk ke Hong Kong, tetapi tidak menjelaskan alasan dibalik itu.
Departemen Luar Negeri (Deplu) AS, menyayangkan keputusan tersebut, merujuk pada kunjungan kapal perang Wash ke pelabuhan Hong Kong yang berjalan baik selama ini. Pihal Deplu AS menduga penolakan itu dipicu ketegangan yang meningkat terkait perang dagang antarkedua negara.
"Kami memiliki rekam jejak panjang dari kunjungan yang sukses ke pelabuhan Hong Kong, dan kami berharap itu akan berlanjut," kata salah satu staf Deplu AS yang menolak disebut identitasnya.
Meskipun militer Tiongkok dan AS telah lama bersaing, pertukaran dan kunjungan pelabuhan, yang menggabungkan diplomasi dan hubungan dengan masyarakat di pesisir yang sangat dibutuhkan bagi para pelaut dan Marinir, sudah berlangsung selama bertahun-tahun.
Pada 2017, USS Sterett, kapal perusak panduan-rudal, mengunjungi salah satu pangkalan angkatan laut paling sensitif di Tiongkok, yakni Zhanjiang, yang berada di wilayah selatan negeri tirai bambu. Namun Tiongkok sempat menolak kunjungan kapal militer ke Hong Kong pada 2016, saat terjadi ketegangan dengan pemerintahan presiden Barack Obama.
Two US Air Force B-52H Stratofortress bombers flying over the Pacific Ocean during a routine training mission August 1.
The head of US Indo-Pacific Command recently accused China of building a “great wall of SAMs,” or surface-to-air missiles, in the South China Sea.
Despite the deployment of Chinese military equipment to the strategic waterway, the US continues to fly and sail through the South China Sea.
Two US Air Force B-52H Stratofortress bombers reportedly flew past Chinese-occupied territories in the South China Sea on Monday.
Two US heavy long-range bombers tore past Chinese-occupied territories in the contested South China Sea on Monday, demonstrating America’s determination to continue its activities in the region despite China’s militarization of disputed areas.
A pair of US Air Force B-52H Stratofortress bombers out of Andersen Air Force Base on Guam conducted a routine training mission in the vicinity of the South China Sea, Pacific Air Forces told CNN on Tuesday, describing the mission as “consistent with international law and United States’ long-standing commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific.”
The US military regularly sends bombers through the contested waterway in support of the deterrence-oriented Continuous Bomber Presence mission. China, which claims the majority of the South China Sea, tends to typically react with sharp criticism of US activities, even when the US is simply transiting planes between its bases across the Pacific.
Beijing has previously called these flights “provocative,” accusing the US of militarizing the region, a counter to US accusations.
China has deployed electronic jamming equipment, anti-ship missiles, and surface-to-air missiles, known as SAMs, to military outposts in the South China Sea, allowing China’s People’s Liberation Army to keep US ships and planes in the region under threat of missile fires that outrange them any time they operate in the strategic waterway.
Deployments, according to the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission, include HQ-9 SAMs and YJ-12 and YJ-62 anti-ship missiles, among other weapons systems.
“The PLA secretly deployed anti-ship missiles, electronic jammers, and surface-to-air missiles,” Adm. Phil Davidson, the head of US Indo-Pacific Command, said last week at the Halifax International Security Forum.
“So, what was a ‘Great Wall of Sand’ just three years ago is now a ‘Great Wall of SAMs’ in the South China Sea,” he said, stressing that these developments gave China “the potential to exert national control over international waters and airspace through which over $US3 trillion in goods travel every year, along with commercial air traffic, as well as information and financial data through undersea cables.”
China has demonstrated increased resistance to US military activities in the region, especially near Chinese-occupied territories.
A Chinese warship confronted a US Navy destroyer during a routine freedom-of-navigation operation in the Spratly Islands in September. The Chinese naval vessel nearly collided with the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer Decatur in an incident widely considered China’s most aggressive response to a US ship to date.
Despite escalated tensions in the South China Sea, the US and Chinese militaries are attempting to restore relations through military exchanges. Following a visit by Chinese military personnel to the USS Ronald Reagan, the aircraft carrier and several of its escort ships made a port call in Hong Kong on Tuesday.
A US Navy cruiser conducted a freedom-of-navigation operation Monday near the Paracel Islands in the contested South China Sea, where China has established several military outposts as it asserts dominance in the region.
The operation, which angered the Chinese, was meant to challenge China’s discredited claims to the strategic waterway.
The US Navy sailed through the Taiwan Strait two days later, drawing criticism from Beijing, which is sensitive to US military activities in the area.
The US Navy challenged China’s excessive claims to the South China Sea on Monday by sending a warship past a Chinese military outpost in the disputed waterway.
The Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Chancellorsville “sailed near the Paracel Islands to challenge excessive maritime claims and preserve access to the waterways as governed by international law,” US Navy Cmdr. Nathan Christensen, a spokesman for US Pacific Fleet, told CNN Thursday in a statement that was also provided to Business Insider.
A Chinese vessel reportedly shadowed the US Navy warship during the operation.
“US Forces operate in the Indo-Pacific region on a daily basis, including the South China Sea,” Christensen added. “All operations are designed in accordance with international law and demonstrate that the United States will fly, sail and operate wherever international law allows.”
“FONOPs challenge excessive maritime claims and demonstrate our commitment to uphold the rights, freedoms, and uses of the sea and airspace guaranteed to all nations under international law.”
Beijing responded with a formal diplomatic protest, CNN reported, citing multiple US officials.
China claims the vast majority of the South China Sea, and while those claims were discredited by an international arbitration tribunal two years ago, the Chinese military has continued to bolster its presence in the region through the deployment of jamming technology, anti-ship missiles, and surface-to-air missiles.
Two days after the latest FONOP, the US Navy aggravated China again by sending a destroyer and an oiler through the Taiwan Strait. The destroyer USS Stockdale and the underway replenishment oiler USNS Pecos pushed through the closely-watched strait Wednesday, drawing some criticism from Beijing.
“We urge the United States to … cautiously and appropriately handle the Taiwan issue and avoid damaging the peace and stability of the Taiwan Strait and China-US relations,” Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Geng Shuang said Thursday.
The navigation of the strait by US warships was carried out in accordance with international law, Pacific Fleet stressed.
“The ships’ transit through the Taiwan Strait demonstrates the U.S. commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific,” Pacific Fleet told Business Insider Wednesday.
The US military has been increasingly active, both at sea and in the air, in areas China considers key national interests, as tensions between Washington and Beijing have been rising over the past year.
In addition to US Navy FONOPs, the US Air Force has regularly sent B-52 bombers into the South China Sea, occasionally drawing Beijing’s ire.
While most incidents are uneventful, the US and Chinese navies had a close call in late September, when a Chinese warship challenged a US Navy destroyer, forcing it off course through aggressive maneuvers that US officials called dangerous and unprofessional.