Beijing has repeatedly protested the passage of US warships in the South China Sea, accusing Washington of violating Chinese sovereignty. Tensions between China and the US have recently further escalated in the wake of the protracted trade war and the blacklisting of Huawei.
Japan and the United States are conducting joint exercises in the South China Sea involving the USS Ronald Reagan, a nuclear aircraft carrier, as well as the JS Izumo, a Japan Maritime Self-Defence Force helicopter carrier, Sankei Shimbun newspaper reported on Wednesday.
According to the Japanese newspaper, the manoeuvres began on 10 June. Besides the JS Izumo, destroyers JS Murasame and JS Akebone are involved in the war games, with the warships mainly practising joint manoeuvring.
The USS Ronald Reagan, with a displacement of 101.4 thousand short tonnes, is one of the world’s largest warships. It can carry up to 90 airplanes and helicopters of various types.
The JS Izumo, Japan’s most powerful surface combat vessel, has been on a long-term mission since the end of April, making port calls in Malaysia and Singapore.
The publication notes that the drills are tasked with the goal of countering China, which has laid claim to the South China Sea and is building islands there. Beijing remains embroiled in disputes with a number of countries in Southeast Asia that also have competing claims to areas of the sea zone.
China controls the vast majority of islands, reefs, and shoals in the South China…