USAF B-52s ignore Beijing’s ‘great wall’ of missiles in the South China Sea.
Two US heavy long-range bombers tore past Chinese-occupied territories in the contested South China Sea on Monday, demonstrating America’s determination to continue its activities in the region despite China’s militarization of disputed areas.
A pair of US Air Force B-52H Stratofortress bombers out of Andersen Air Force Base on Guam conducted a routine training mission in the vicinity of the South China Sea, Pacific Air Forces told CNN on Tuesday, describing the mission as “consistent with international law and United States’ long-standing commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific.”
The US military regularly sends bombers through the contested waterway in support of the deterrence-oriented Continuous Bomber Presence mission.
China, which claims the majority of the South China Sea, tends to typically react with sharp criticism of US activities, even when the US is simply transiting planes between its bases across the Pacific.
Beijing has previously called these flights “provocative,” accusing the US of militarizing the region, a counter to US accusations.
China has deployed electronic jamming equipment, anti-ship missiles, and surface-to-air missiles, known as SAMs, to military outposts in the South China Sea, allowing China’s People’s Liberation Army to keep US ships and planes in the region under threat of missile fires that outrange them any time they operate in the strategic waterway.
“The PLA secretly deployed anti-ship missiles, electronic jammers, and surface-to-air missiles,” Adm. Phil Davidson, the head of US Indo-Pacific Command, said last week at the Halifax International Security Forum.
“So, what was a ‘Great Wall of Sand’ just three years ago is now a ‘Great Wall of SAMs’ in the South China Sea,” he said, stressing that these developments gave China “the potential to exert national control over international waters and airspace through which over $US3 trillion in goods travel every year, along with commercial air traffic, as well as information and financial data through undersea cables.”
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