TEHRAN, Young Journalists Club (YJC) - F-18 Super Hornet jet fighters flew off the decks of the USS Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier on Saturday while two Chinese frigates constantly maintained a line-of-sight vigil.
The two frigates of the People’s Liberation Army’s Navy conduct frequent close quarter surveillance, according to officers on the Japanese-based Reagan.
They said that sometimes Chinese vessels move around to check out the carrier en route to other destinations, while other times they stay for days within the screen of US ships and planes which are tasked with protecting the Reagan.
The situation in South China Sea has been precarious since Japan and South Korea, two major allies of the US in the region, protested what they described as China’s undercutting of naval sovereignty of neighboring nations in the region.
The US, which routinely carries out military drills in the sea along with Japan and South Korea, has called on China to retract its military presence from waters which are not part of its territory.
Washington claims that China has blocked free movement of vessels in areas which should be used for international navigation without any restriction under the international protocol.
China, however, has objected to US intervention in the area, accusing Washington of seeking to destabilize the region and undermine the unity among the Southeast Asian nations.
All this while tensions have increased over North Korea, which has conducted several nuclear tests and missile test-launches in recent months.
Pyongyang argues it needs to do such tests to ensure its security in the face of the US, which has increased its military presence in the region.