February 18, 2018

United States warplanes fly over disputed S China Sea

08 July 2017, 12:38 | Kara Nash

Media playback is unsupported on your device Media captionAmerica's UN ambassador Nikki Haley says the US is prepared to defend itself and its allies

Media playback is unsupported on your device                  Media captionAmerica's UN ambassador Nikki Haley says the US is prepared to defend itself and its allies

Snubbing China's claim to all of the disputed South China Sea, the US Air Force today said that two of its bombers flew over the disputed waterway as it treats the region as global territory.

The two US Lancers had earlier trained with Japanese jet fighters in the East China Sea, the first time the two forces had conducted joint night-time drills, said the US Pacific Air Forces public affairs office in a statement.

Flying over the East China Sea challenges China's Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ), a 200-mile airspace off the coast of China that requires aircraft to identify themselves. US Air Force said that the move was meant to assert its rights to treat the region as an worldwide territory, something that challenges China's claims to control the entire area and call all of it as its own.

China has made claims to almost all of the South China Sea, which holds strategic global shipping routes.

"But China resolutely opposes individual countries using the banner of freedom of navigation and overflight to flaunt military force and harm China's sovereignty and security", Geng said.

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The South China Sea carries about $5 trillion in trade per year and Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Taiwan also make claims on the sea.

Thursday's demonstration of military might by the US and one of its key regional allies comes on the heels of a tense week in US-China relations, which analysts said signaled the end of the honeymoon period between the two nations that began with a summit at Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort in April.

According to the White House statement, Trump raised the growing threat of North Korea's nuclear and ballistic arsenals with the Chinese president in their phone call on Sunday.

That U.S. military activity came amid heightened tension in the region after North Korea claimed it has developed a long range missile that could threaten the United States.

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