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Two U.S. Aircraft Carriers Near South China Sea Prompts “Harsh Criticism” From Chinese Newspapers

June 22, 2016

The United States Navy recently dispatched two massive nuclear-powered aircraft carriers to participate in three days of military exercises in the Philippine Sea. The Philippine Sea is located next to, but not in, the South China Sea. The Chinese have been been slowly but surely building artificial islands in order to militarize the area and claim ownership. The US and it’s allies have been more active in the area to dissuade China’s plan and stabilize the area. The latest attempt to stay active in the area has drawn harsh criticism from the state-controlled Chinese media.


The two aircraft carriers deployed to the Philippine Sea were the USS John C. Stennis and the USS Ronald Reagan. The were accompanied by strike groups of cruisers and destroyers carrying 12,000 sailors and 140 military aircraft. The three day long deployment, that ended on June 20, focused on  long-range strikes, sea surveillance, air defense drills and defensive air combat training. The purpose of the drill was to maintain a non-Chinese presence in the area and display the unparalleled power of the U.S. Navy.  Rear Admiral John Alexander, commander of the USS Reagan carrier strike group proudly stated:

“No other navy can concentrate this much combat power in one sea … It was truly impressive.”

An unnamed American official told the New York Times that the message of the exercises were clear and that the time was deliberate. The UN Permanent Court of Arbitration is due to rule in coming weeks on a US-backed challenge by the Philippines to Chinese territorial claims in the South China Sea. For Washington this is the start of an aggressive campaign to stop Chinese expansionism in the area.

“a terrific opportunity for us just to do some high-end war-fighting and training.”

Admiral John Richardson, chief of naval operations, stated at a Center for a New American Security (CNAS) conference that the exercises provided:

“a terrific opportunity for us just to do some high-end war-fighting and training.”

He went on to state that the exercises were also carried out to signal commitment to regional allies, such as the Philippines, and prevent further “bullying” of U.S. allies by China. He finished his statement by issuing this thinly-veiled threat to China:

“For anyone who wants to destabilize the region, we hope that there is a deterrence message there as well.”

State controlled Chinese media harshly criticized the exercises. China’s top newspaper,  the People’s Daily, published a commentary stating:

“The U.S. picked the wrong target in playing this trick on China…Behind this misjudgment is Washington’s anxiety and arrogance, and it is the true expression of its hegemonic nature,””

The article was published under the name “Zhong Sheng”, which is a Chinese homonym for the phrase ” voice of China and is often used to express the paper’s official views on foreign policy. The paper serves as the official news paper of the ruling communist party and often reflects the opinion of the Chinese government.

Over $5 trillion in ship-borne trade passes through the South China Sea every year which makes control of the area highly lucrative. Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam all also have claims along with China.