Released photograph shows US naval commanders calmly observing a Chinese aircraft carrier.
CAPE TOWN, April 12 (ANA) – Military activity in the South China Sea increased over the weekend with the arrival of a Chinese aircraft carrier and the conclusion of drills by a US Navy expeditionary strike force.
As the US has vowed to fight China’s military build-up in the area, tensions have been rising in the increasingly tense waters.
Both countries have made a stand. The USS Theodore Roosevelt and China’s Liaoning aircraft carriers have both been deployed to the East and South China Seas.
The newly built Liaoning was deployed to the South China Sea on Saturday after completing a series of exercises around Taiwan in the previous seven days, according to China’s state-run Global Times.
On Sunday, the US released a photograph of the USS Mustin, one of its guided-missile destroyers, shadowing the Liaoning group, in a move that analysts said was intended to send a direct message to the Chinese.
The ship’s captain, Commander Robert J. Briggs, and his assistant, Commander Richard D. Slye, were photographed on Monday calmly observing the Liaoning.
“This staged photograph is definitely ‘cognitive warfare’ to show the US doesn’t regard the PLA (People’s Liberation Army) as an immediate threat,” said Lu Li-Shih, a former instructor at Taiwan’s Naval Academy in Kaohsiung, according to The South China Morning Post.
A delegation from the Beijing-based South China Sea Strategy Initiative reported that US military forces had bolstered their fleet presence in the Pacific Ocean, especially in the East China Sea and the South China Sea.
The review further stated that the USS Mustin was sent to the Yangtze River mouth on April 3 and had since been tracking the Liaoning and various other Chinese fleet formations through the East and South China Seas.
However, a US analyst has characterised the Liaoning’s presence in the South China Sea as typical for when weather conditions are conducive to training, according to CNN.
“The Liaoning goes down there this time of year (to practise) air defence and live-fire training,” said former director of operations at the US Pacific Command’s Joint Intelligence Center, Carl Schuster.
– African News Agency (ANA); Editing by Yaron Blecher
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