Mon, 16 May 2022

Washington [US], January 27 (ANI): Amid military rivalry between Washington and Beijing in the South China Sea, the United States is demonstrating a growing appetite to challenge China's naval assertiveness in the area, according to media reports.

Asia Times reported that several Asia leaders had feared the US may pull back on its strong approach to China after Donald Trump was voted out of office, but the opposite has happened. After Joe Biden's victory in the 2020 presidential elections, a degree of panic gripped a number of US allies in Asia.

Earlier this month, the USS Carl Vinson conducted five-day naval drills with the Essex Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) near the hotly disputed Spratly group of islands in the South China Sea, Asia Times reported on Wednesday.

The exercises kicked off two weeks earlier than last year, demonstrating a growing appetite in the Pentagon to challenge China's naval assertiveness in the area, it added.

Beijing has been disputing for decades the status of a number of territories in the South China Sea to which it lays claim, primarily the Paracel and Spratly islands, and the Scarborough Shoal.

China considers the Spratly archipelago to be its territory, despite the Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration ruling which said there was no legal basis for China's maritime claims.

On last Sunday, US aircraft carriers entered the SCS "to begin operations" amid heightened tensions arising between China and Taiwan.

The US Navy Carrier Strike Groups Carl Vinson and Abraham Lincoln will engage in operations aimed at strengthening maritime integrated-at-sea operations and combat readiness, according to a statement from the US Navy.

"Our ability to rapidly aggregate and work collectively alongside CSG 3, highlights the U.S. Navy's ability to deliver overwhelming maritime force, when called upon, to support a free and open Indo-Pacific region," Rear Admiral Dan Martin, commander of the strike group led by USS Carl Vinson, said in a statement.

Reiterating Washington's stand against China's "unlawful" maritime claims in the region, The acting US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Oceans, Fisheries, and Polar Affairs has said that China has not provided any legal basis for its claims in the South China Sea (SCS).

China's claim of a wide swathe of the South China Sea is inconsistent with the 1982 Law of the Sea Convention, according to the US State Department. (ANI)

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