Taipei – The US Navy last week was reported to have engaged in joint exercises in the hotly-contested South China Sea (SCS), led by the nuclear-powered super-carriers USS Nimitz and USS Theodore Roosevelt.
This surely must have irked Beijing, coming only days after the passage by their National Congress of a controversial law authorizing Coast Guard ships to use deadly fire on vessels found encroaching in their territorial waters.
The US, alongside France, Germany and Canada, is disputing this new law which is said violates provisions of the United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea as well as international law.
Rear Adm. Jim Kirk of the Nimitz strike force said the US, under the new Biden administration, is intent on opening up the SCS to all nations, unlike China.
Small-fry nations such as the Philippines, Vietnam, Brunei, Malaysia, Taiwan and Indonesia are likewise contesting China’s sweeping territorial claims in the resources-rich SCS where an estimated $2 trillion in global trade traverse annually.
But they are in no position to conduct freedom-of-navigation operations like the US and its other Western allies.
PHOTO: US Navy