In a move likely to stoke anger in Beijing just days before it marks a key anniversary, the USS Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier is conducting operations in the disputed South China Sea, near China’s man-made islands, new images have shown.
Satellite images posted to social media showed what appeared to be the Reagan and several unidentified warships, possibly U.S. and Chinese, sailing in the area northeast of the contested Spratly Island chain in the waterway on Saturday.
Asked about the images, the Reagan’s location and if it was meant to send a message to China, a spokeswoman for the U.S. 7th Fleet declined to confirm the carrier’s location, but said it was currently underway, “conducting routine operations.”
“Her underway is not in response to any specific events,” Cmdr. Reann Mommsen said in an email.
China’s Defense Ministry on Thursday said that the carrier and its strike group, which are home-ported in Yokosuka, Kanagawa Prefecture, were in the South China Sea “to flex muscles and escalate regional militarization.”
“We are firmly opposed to that. We urge the U.S. side to respect the security concerns of countries in the region and make positive contributions to the peace and stability in the South China Sea,” ministry spokesman Col. Ren Guoqiang said. “The Chinese military will earnestly perform its duties and missions and firmly safeguard national sovereignty and security.”
China’s ruling Communist Party is due to mark the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic on Tuesday, rolling out some of its most advanced and powerful weaponry in a show of the progress it has made in modernizing its military. Analysts say the massive military parade to mark the anniversary will likely include cutting-edge anti-ship missiles and ballistic missiles capable of sinking U.S. carriers and striking American bases in Japan.
However, the presence of the Reagan in the waterway could be seen as the U.S. attempting to throw cold water on the celebrations amid Washington’s protracted trade war with Beijing.
could be I was just late to the story (LOL) as inside
and here's what the USNI news had to say (understandably, the South Korean part isn't mentioned):
and she's there according to