WASHINGTON — The Pentagon sent a carrier through the South China Sea in a high-profile maneuver that sent China complaining and reacting.
The USS Ronald Reagan, sailing with a group of dignitaries from the Philippines, sailed through the international waters claimed by China on Tuesday in one of the highest profile freedom of navigation operations conducted by the Pentagon.
“We just think that folks should follow the international law and our presence allows us to provide that security and stability in the background for these discussions to take place,” Rear Adm. Karl Thomas said, in a statement released by the Pentagon.
The ship sailed into the South China Sea after a port visit to Manila. It conducted a flight demonstration during the transit for the visitors, a rarity.
Some of the islands in the South China Sea are also claimed by the Philippines, Vietnam, Taiwan, Malaysia and Brunei.
The U.S. sailing came as Vietnam has demanded that China remove a survey ship from the Vanguard Bank, which lies within Vietnam’s 200-mile exclusive zone.
The Pentagon has sent ships though the South China Sea every month this year. They also have conducted sorties over the region.
The sailing also occurred as the Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard joined with the Indonesian navy and marine corps on annual exercises. They include on-shore and at-sea training, such as search and seizure drills, explosive ordnance disposal drills and jungle warfare training, the Navy said in a news release.
The two countries also will exchange information on subjects including maritime domain awareness, aviation, law and medicine.