After learning that the Chinese have landed 16 J-11 fighter jets on one of its artificial islands the U.S. Pacific Command has ordered the USS John C. Stennis Carrier Strike Group back into the South China Sea.
The Stennis centered strike group has been in the region for the past couple weeks training with partner nations. The news comes shortly after the U.S. Defense Secretary, Ash Carter, signed a defense cooperation agreement with his Indian counterpart, allowing for the two militaries to work more closely together. This is seen as a response to China’s aggression and expansion in the region. The Sec Def is also to soon visit the Stennis on its patrol, a clear sign to China the U.S. Military is not playing around.
The Stennis and her strike group began patrols near the end of March, making a one in the South China Sea just before the Foal Eagle exercise with South korea, and is now resuming her duties in the South China Sea.
“In addition to routine operations, the strike group will conduct port visits, exercises and exchanges with regional partner navies. These cooperative engagements are part of an enduring commitment to regional security, stability and prosperity.” – PACFLT spokesman Lt. Cmdr. Matt White
With 30% of international trade making its way through the South China Sea, with a big junk of that being U.S. goods, the U.S. isn’t about to let China control the vital sea lanes or threaten its allies sovereignty. While the situation for the legal bases of what China is doing is complicated but is well explained here it doesn’t mean they can bully smaller nations into submission while making mineral and land grabs right next to sovereign nations. Keep it up China and they will see how the Asian Pacific nations align themselves with the U.S.