For the second time in as many weeks, the US Navy has partnered two of its aircraft carriers for joint drills off the Chinese coast. The muscle-flexing comes after the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) issued a stern rebuke to Beijing for its South China Sea claims.
Last week, the US Navy aircraft carriers USS Theodore Roosevelt and USS Nimitz sailed together in the Philippine Sea, but this week the Nimitz has been joined by the USS Ronald Reagan.
The move comes shortly after a slew of US intelligence and patrol aircraft were spotted traversing the South China Sea and Phillippine Sea, and just days after ASEAN sharply criticized Beijing for its claims to historic right to 90% of the hydrocarbon-rich South China Sea.
ASEAN Rebukes China, Calls for Peaceful Solution
During a tele-summit hosted by ASEAN chair country Vietnam on Saturday, the international group issued a statement reaffirming the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), which lays out the basis by which nations can define their exclusive economic zones, which govern the special rights nations have to natural resources located there.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo expressed his support for the resolution, writing on Twitter on Saturday that “China cannot be allowed to treat the SCS [South China Sea] as its maritime empire.”
Washington has carefully positioned itself as the enforcer of freedom of…