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WASHINGTON (Sputnik) – Two American B-52 bombers flew over the South China Sea for the second time in ten days, the US Air Force’s Pacific Command said in a statement.
"Two B-52H Stratofortress bombers took off from Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, and conducted routine training in the vicinity of the South China Sea March 13, 2019 (HST), before returning to base", the statement said Wednesday, quoted by the Diplomat. Wednesday’s mission followed the dispatch of two B-52 bombers over the East and South China Seas on 4 March.
The South China Sea is one of the thorns in the side of US-China relations, with the United States criticizing Beijing for moving weapons to the Spratly archipelago, something that China qualifies as interference in its internal affairs.
The United States views the sea as an international waterway and routinely defies China with patrols by American and allied warships in so-called freedom of navigation exercises that lately have been augmented with bomber flights.
The South China Sea and the East China Sea are also sources of tension for China and its neighbors, including Japan, Vietnam and the Philippines, as the countries continue to argue over the waters' maritime borders. China considers the Spratly archipelago, a group of artificial islands located in the South China Sea, as its territory, despite an international tribunal ruling that these claims had no legal basis.
Speaking at an energy conference in Texas on Tuesday, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo claimed that China was blocking access to recoverable energy reserves worth $2.5 trillion to countries of the Asia-Pacific. According to the top US diplomat, China’s alleged illegal construction of islands in international waters was not just a security issue but one that concerned the blocking of access to resources.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said Wednesday that the behavior of some faraway countries that undermine the situation in the South China Sea was irresponsible.
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