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South China Sea drills underscore # 039 & China;s sovereignty claims
12 April 2018, 12:31 | Jodi Jackson
"In one way or another, they can help us to deter any threat", Bautista said, adding that the American military presence helps secure vulnerable Philippine waters.
"It's a showcase of the capability of the US armed forces not only by sea but also by air", Philippine army Lt. Gen. Rolando Bautista said after joining a tour of the 97,000-ton carrier.
"While China has maintained that the construction of the islands is to ensure safety at sea, navigation assistance, search and rescue, fisheries protection and other nonmilitary functions, electronic jamming equipment is only for military use", a U.S. Defense Department official told the Wall Street Journal.
This year, the USS Carl Vinson, a massive nuclear-powered aircraft carrier from which sailors dumped the bullet-ridden body of the late al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, also flexed its muscle deep in the South China Sea amid U.S.
Nearly 90 per cent of the South China Sea has been declared sovereign territory by Beijing under its arbitrary "Nine Dash Line" which extends some 1,243 miles from its mainland.
"The Americans are our friends".
China has protested those moves, calling it USA meddling in an Asian conflict, and renewed warnings to Washington to stay away.
"By repeatedly sending military ships into these areas without authorization, the USA has seriously harmed Chinese sovereignty and security, violated basic rules of global relations, and harmed regional peace and stability".
"We're trying to see if we can achieve an agreement, hopefully within the next couple of months", Jose Santiago Santa Romana, Philippine ambassador to the People's Republic of China, told a news conference held on China's island province of Hainan. Romana, recently warned that the risks of a miscalculation and armed conflict have risen in the disputed region with a militarily stronger China now able to challenge the U.S.
Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday flew to China for the Boao Forum for Asia, and will meet Chinese President Xi Jinping on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, America's Theodore Roosevelt Nimitz-class carrier strike group was said last week to be traveling to the center of the South China Sea along with warships from allies, following a port visit in Singapore.
"All of the operations that we do in and around the South China Sea or any of the bodies of water we operate in, there is a function of global law and that is ultimately what we want to recognize", Koehler said.
Washington stakes no claims in the territorial disputes but has declared that their peaceful resolution and the maintenance of freedom of navigation are in its national interest.
China has long objected to US military operations off its coasts, even in areas Washington insists are free to global passage.
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