South China Sea Latest

April 2, 2021
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While Americans celebrated Independence Day at home, two U.S. aircraft carrier strike groups sailed together in the South China Sea — in the name of “freedom.”

What To Know


What Happened?

Two U.S. aircraft carriers – the USS Nimitz & USS Ronald Reagan – and their supporting ships/aircrafts conducted military exercises on July 4th in the South China Sea.

Days earlier, the Chinese Navy held its own military exercises.

Both sides accuse the other of disrupting peace and security in the region.

“These efforts support enduring U.S. commitments to stand up for the right of all nations to fly, sail, and operate wherever international law allows.”

U.S. Navy Commander, Task Force 70 / Carrier Strike Group 5 Public Affairs, on the military exercises by the carrier strike groups. The last time two aircraft carriers were in this region at the same time was 4 years ago to show support for America's allies, as China claims this strategically-important and disputed waterway.

“…the U.S. deliberately dispatched massive forces to conduct large-scale military exercises in the relevant waters of the South China Sea to flex its military muscle.”
China Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian. The U.S. Navy has held military exercises in this region before, including only a week prior. Chinese officials reportedly warned such actions by the U.S. "…could very easily spark an unforeseen incident."

Overview: South China Sea

  • South China Sea is a major strategic waterway for both global trade AND defense.
  • *At least* 5 countries claim parts of the South China Sea (including Philippines & Vietnam).
  • China has not only claimed and aggressively patrolled this area, but also built islands for military installations in what the U.S. and others consider international waters.

Why It Matters:

International waters are generally considered anything beyond 12 nautical miles off the coast of a nation.

This insures freedom of the navigation as no single nation “owns” the sea.

China’s claim to territory far off their coastline conflicts with internationally-accepted norms, and reflects a more aggressive military posture.

The U.S. is one of the few nations in the world with aircraft carriers in its fleet, with a total of 12 — more than any other nation. China has two in operation and is working on bringing others into its fleet. READ MORE about a near collision at sea between the two countries:

Statement by Navy: CLICK HERE

China’s Response: CLICK HERE

Learn More:

Background about a near collision at sea: CLICK HERE

The Navy at work around the world: CLICK HERE

by Jenna Lee,

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