World

US warplanes fly over South China Sea

GUAM: Two US bombers flew over the disputed South China Sea, the United States Air Force said yesterday, asserting the right to treat the region as international territory despite China's claims in the busy waterway.

The flight from Guam on Thursday came as US President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping prepare for a likely meeting on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Germany.

China claims nearly all of the South China Sea, a stance contested by Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam. About US$5 trillion (S$6.9 trillion) worth of shipborne trade passes the sea every year.

Beijing usually protests against such freedom-of-navigation operations.

The two US Lancers that made the latest flight had earlier trained with Japanese jet fighters in the neighbouring East China Sea, the first time the two forces had conducted joint night-time drills.

"This is a clear demonstration of our ability to conduct seamless operations with our allies," US Air Force spokesman Ryan Simpson said.

Asked about the flight, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said there was no problem with freedom of navigation or overflight for the East and South China Seas.

He said: "But China resolutely opposes individual countries using the banner of freedom of navigation and overflight to flaunt military force and harm China's sovereignty and security."- REUTERS

South China Seaunited statesChina