The Saturday evening edition of Nikkei reported that it learned from a U.S. military official on Friday that the U.S. military has deployed two nuclear carriers—the USS Nimitz and the USS Ronald Reagan—to the South China Sea to conduct major military exercises there. Noting that China is also apparently conducting military drills in the South China Sea from July 1, the paper said the U.S. military is clearly demonstrating its stance of countering China’s moves in the region. The daily wrote that it is rare for the U.S. and China to conduct military drills in close proximity. The U.S. military official reportedly pointed out that the exercises are aimed at providing the U.S. military with enhanced flexibility, endurance, mobility, and force in all kinds of battles and stressed that the U.S. will demonstrate its “commitment to stand up for the right of all nations to fly, sail, and operate wherever international law allows.” Yomiuri ran a similar report on Sunday.
In a related development, Monday’s Nikkei reported that the Chinese Navy has conducted major exercises in the South China Sea, East China Sea, and Yellow Sea at around the same time recently, noting that the concurrent operations appear to be intended to play up China’s presence in the three theaters amid rising tension with the U.S.
Meanwhile, according to Monday’s Yomiuri and Sankei, two Chinese government ships intruded into Japan’s territorial waters around the Senkakus early Friday morning and stayed there for almost 39 hours.