Washington: US President Donald Trump has ¬reportedly approved a plan to give the United States Navy more freedom to carry out patrols in the South China Sea – a move analysts say will add to uncertainties over Sino-US relations and regional security issues.
The plan, submitted to the White House in April by Defence Secretary Jim Mattis, outlines a full-year schedule of when US navy ships will sail through contested waters in the South China Sea, the far-right Breitbart News website cited a US official as ¬saying yesterday.
Such a move could be seen as a challenge to China’s maritime claims in the disputed waters. The new plan, which was submitted by US defence secretary Jim Mattis, involves a full-year schedule of when US navy ships will sail through contested waters. The US navy will now enjoy a lot more freedom than it did during the Obama administration, which insisted on the National Security Council approving major operational decisions.
The decision came soon after Chinese warships began moving towards the Baltic Sea for a joint naval exercise with Russian navy on Friday. This is seen as an attempt to reassure Moscow that China would stand by it in the case of threats from western powers, analysts said.
“By sending its most advanced guided-missile destroyers, China is expressing its sincerity to Russia and also sends a strong signal to other countries who plan to provoke us,” Li Jie, a Beijing-based navy expert told the state-run Global Times.
China lost its case over the South China Sea at the International Court at The Hague, which deemed Beijing’s claims as unlawful and excessive. But China has rejected the validity of the verdict. Analysts said China plans to expand its air defense and identification zone into the western Pacific and build a blue water navy to rival that of the US.