US Sends B-52 Bombers Over East China Sea Amid Tensions With China

news
Two U.S. Air Force B-52H Stratofortress bombers fly over the Pacific Ocean during a routine training mission Aug. 2, 2018. (U.S. Air Force/Airman 1st Class Gerald R. Willis)

The U.S. Air Force has sent two B-52 bombers over the East China Sea for "routine training" near Okinawa Prefecture, the military has said, the latest mission in the waterway that is home to the Japanese-controlled Senkaku Islands.


The B-52 bomber mission was part of so-called continuous bomber presence operations by the U.S., which the military says "have been ongoing since March 2004" and "are consistent with international law and United States' long-standing and well-known freedom of navigation policies."

The exercise also came just ahead of high-level U.S.-China talks scheduled for Wednesday in Washington aimed at finding a solution to a trade war that has cast a growing shadow over the world's top two economies.

The U.S. and Japanese militaries regularly exercise in the East China Sea and Beijing, which also claims the Senkakus and calls them the Diaoyu, often dispatches government ships and aircraft to the area surrounding the tiny islets.

U.S. Pacific Air Force spokeswoman Capt. Victoria Hight said that the two nuclear-capable B-52s had departed the U.S. territory of Guam for the mission Monday, and Aircraft Spots, a Twitter account tracking movements of military aircraft, showed that the exercise took the bombers over the East China Sea and Sea of Japan for the approximately 11-hour mission.

In November 2013, China declared an air defense identification zone, in which aircraft are supposed to identify themselves to Chinese authorities, in the East China Sea. The United States and Japan have refused to recognize the ADIZ, and many observers have viewed it as an attempt by China to bolster its claims over disputed territories, like the uninhabited Senkakus.

Beijing said in 2017 that Washington should respect the ADIZ after Chinese officials warned a U.S. bomber that it was illegally flying inside the East China Sea zone. The Pentagon rejected the Chinese call and said it would continue its flight operations in the region.

The United States is obligated to defend aggression against territories under Japanese administration under Article 5 of the U.S.-Japan Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security, and top U.S. officials have said this extends to the Senkakus.

Training missions such as Monday's have appeared to gain more publicity amid protracted military and trade tensions between Washington and Beijing. The U.S. has also sent its B-52 bombers over the disputed South China Sea — including two separate flights within the space of one week last September near some of China's man-made islands — moves that Beijing blasted as "provocations."

In June, after two U.S. B-52s flew near Chinese-held islands in the waterway, China's Foreign Ministry said no military ship or aircraft could scare China away from its resolve to protect its territory. Beijing has built up a series of military outposts in the South China Sea, which includes vital sea lanes through which about $3 trillion in global trade passes each year.

Washington and Beijing have frequently jousted over the militarization of the South China Sea, where China, Taiwan, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and the Philippines all have competing claims.

The U.S. does not maintain any claims there, but says the operations are conducted globally with the aim of promoting freedom of navigation.

———

©2019 the Japan Times (Tokyo). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

SEE ALSO: China Swallowed Islands In The South China Sea. Now It Wants To Eat Djibouti Like Groceries

WATCH NEXT: FONOPs Are Not Fun Ops


Editor's Note: This article originally appeared on Business Insider

If you're in the market for a bunker in the southwest, you're in luck. A decommissioned missile complex is now on sale outside of Tucson for nearly $400,000. The complex was home to an armed Titan II missile for 24 years, before it was decommissioned in the 1980s.

The structure is listed with Grant Hampton at Realty Executives. Now, the home is back on the market, and these photos show what lies underground in Arizona.

Read More Show Less

Connecting with the youths is all fun and games until Congress starts worrying you could accidentally expose the U.S. military to Chinese data collection, am I right?

Read More Show Less

A Florida Navy Reserve officer rescued a woman who was trapped in a sinking car, according to a report by CBS 47.

Read More Show Less

The Marine Corps will investigate whether another Marine has ties to a white supremacist group after he allegedly made racist comments on neo Nazi message boards that have since been taken down, according to a Marine Corps official.

Vice News reporters Tess Owen and Tim Hume first reported on Nov. 8 that at least three people who posted on the new defunct Iron March message boards were service members, but their story did not include any of the troops' names.

Newsweek reporters James LaPorta and Asher Stockler were able to independently confirm the identity of one of those service members as an active-duty Marine: Lance Corporal Liam J. Collins, an 0311 Rifleman assigned to 1st Battalion, 2nd Marines at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.

Read More Show Less

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Donald Trump said on Tuesday the United States knows the location of the third in command to Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who killed himself last month during a U.S.-led raid.

"We have our eye on his third," Trump said during the question-and-answer session following a speech at the Economic Club of New York. "His third has got a lot of problems because we know where he is too."

Read More Show Less