US, China Sends Warships into Disputed Waters amid Escalating Whitsun Reef Tensions

A US aircraft carrier strike group sailed into the South China Sea while a Chinese aircraft carrier fleet passed through Okinawa as Beijing and Manila escalate tensions over the Whitsun reef.

Before March ended, the Philippines raised protest regarding the presence of a maritime militia in the Whitsun reef which China claimed to be fishing boats.

The Philippines deemed the Chinese flotilla to be hostile and demanded their departure from Beijing.

“For every day of delay, the Republic of the Philippines will lodge a diplomatic protest,” said the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs.

The US aircraft carrier strike group led by the USS Theodore Roosevelt was spotted transiting the South China Sea from the Strait of Malacca while the USS Mustin guided-missile destroyer was sailing near Shanghai.

The Chinese aircraft carrier Liaoning and five escort vessels followed by a Y-9 military transport aircraft were spotted passing through the Miyako Strait before going to the Pacific.

In response to the Chinese presence, Japan deployed JS Suzutsuki, a P-1 maritime patrol aircraft, and a P-3C anti-submarine warfare patrol aircraft to shadow the Liaoning.

The US has not yet made a statement on the deployment but announced last month that it was conducting exercises with Japan, India, and Australia in the Indo-Pacific.

Beijing has also not made a statement on the Liaoning’s transit near Japan but it has increased its presence in the disputed South China Sea recently amid tensions with its neighbors and the US.

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