Just as President Trump plans to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Hamburg, Germany on Friday, two B-1B Lancer bombers flew over the contested waterway of the South China Sea on Thursday, the Air Force said.
The two already have a lot to discuss regarding what to do about the potentially explosive situation in North Korea, but this latest move is sure to rankle Xi. The communist country has tried to claim the area for itself and has even built small islands and military installations there.
China’s claims of sovereignty over large regions of the South China Sea were declared not valid in a ruling last year, which was made by an international arbitration court in The Hague.
Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam, and Taiwan all rely on the area being open to ships for trade, which amounts to approximately $5 trillion of business every year. However, China’s construction of islands and military facilities in the sea have been viewed as Beijing attempting to restrict free movement.
Acknowledging to reporters that there is nothing stopping the U.S. from being in the area, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told Reuters that they were not pleased with “individual countries using the banner of freedom of navigation and overflight to flaunt military force and harm China’s sovereignty and security.”
China’s Defense Ministry said in a statement that the country was monitoring “relevant countries’ military activities next to China.”
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