Daily Management Review

US Bomber Flypasts Spartly Islands in South China Sea, Angers Beijing


US Bomber Flypasts Spartly Islands in South China Sea, Angers Beijing
Following the straying of a B-52 bomber within two nautical miles of Chinese-claimed territory in the South China Sea last week, the US was accused by the Chinese authorities of “serious military provocation”.
He incident took place last week near the Cuarteron Reef in the Spratly archipelago according to the Wall Street Journal. Cuarteron Reef in the Spratly archipelago is a, disputed territory claimed by China and several of its neighbors and the incident involved a B-52 bomber.
China has been claiming for long that the island chain is within its territory. Pentagon has started investigating in the alleged flypast after China filed a formal complaint about the incident with the US through the US embassy.
The US has been accused of deliberately raising tensions in the disputed region by the Chinese Defense Ministry in a statement on Saturday.
“The actions by the US side constitute a serious military provocation and are rendering more complex and even militarizing conditions in the South China Sea,” the statement said.
Such incidents are potentially damaging to the bilateral relations between the two countries and Beijing has demanded that Washington should immediately take measures to prevent such incidents.
It would take whatever necessary measures to protect China’s sovereignty and security, reiterated the Chinese defense ministry.  
The US regularly conducted B-52 training missions throughout the region but there was no plan for the B-52 to fly within 12 nautical miles of any artificial island, Navy Commander Bill Urban, a Pentagon spokesman said.
“For this mission, there was no intention of flying to within 12 nautical miles. The Chinese have raised concerns with us about the flight path of a recent mission,” he said. We are looking into the matter,” Urban said.
Bad weather had contributed to the pilot flying off course and into the area claimed by China, reported the Wall Street Journal citing a unnamed senior US defense official.
In the past two years, China has reinstated its claims in the Spratly island chain in the South China Sea by the dramatically stepping up land reclamation work on reefs.
In a signal to deliberately challenge China’s claims of territorial waters there, a US Navy destroyer, the USS Lassen, sailed within 12 nautical miles of Subi reef, in October. This incident had prompted Chinese patrol boats to issue a warning that further “provocative actions” might lead to accelerated Chinese construction in the area.