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The US conducted drills near the Paracel Islands on Saturday as forces attempt to illustrate Washington’s growing force in the South China Sea. China has laid claim to the islands along with several other contentious areas in the region drawing Donald Trump to increase the US’ presence. In a sign of tensions reaching a tipping point, the American Enterprise Institute’s Oriana Skylar Mastro warned the US may now be ready to take on China.
He said: “We sailed them near the Paracels, which is even more risky.
“China said they could have responded with force, but if what we said to China was, ‘we’re willing to take that risk,’ that does demonstrate our willingness to absorb costs, our willingness to fight it would be effective.”
Pentagon officials used a long-range B-52 Stratofortress bomber which can carry convention and nuclear weapons to accompany two aircraft carriers in drills on Saturday.
This is just the latest in an attempt to stop China growing its presence in the region.
As well as showcasing Washington’s strength to Beijing, the show of force was also intended to show allies the US was still the leading power.
A source told the Washington Examiner: “They might think if they fail to construct good relationship with the US, who wants to protect allies in the region from China, it would not good for their national interest.
“But it does not seem to be simple question of whether allies will be reassured that the US will protect them or not.”
Florida’s Congressman, Ted Yoho claimed China still could not match America’s military power.
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He said: “They can’t compete with us on that, and they know that.
“It is a very strong warning about how rapidly we can deploy.”
The US sent the two aircraft carrier to the region for the first time since 2014.
The USS Nimitz and USS Ronald Reagan both conducted drills as the Chinese army also conducted five-day drills in the Paracel Islands.
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Both Vietnam and the Philippines protested against the move.
China, however, continued with exercises while in recent months the navy has harassed several fishing vessels.
The Pentagon had also claimed the moves risk inflaming tensions and could destabilise the South China Sea.
The high-profile drills by the two is one of the most blatant signs of the two states vying for power.
Captain Chang Ching, a research fellow at the Strategic Studies Society ROC and former commander in Taiwan’s navy, warned the move from Beijing was an incredible risk.
He said: “This is a very risky manoeuvre.
“They were sending the US a message: We know where you are!”
Indeed, with tensions escalating, Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo warned Beijing will not be allowed to turn the region into its empire.
He tweeted: “China cannot be allowed to treat the South China Sea as its maritime empire.”
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