According to a recent military communiqué from the US Indo-Pacific Command, in early August, US Air Force B-52 bombers flew over the East China Sea near Japan as part of a joint training mission with the US Navy.
Two Air Force B-52 Stratofortress bombers and two Navy P-8 Poseidon aircraft made flights into the region on August 1 to improve “military integration,” the US Air Force’s Public Affairs Department revealed on August 3.
Since 2004, the US Indo-Pacific Command (USINDOPACOM) has conducted the so-called “Continuous Bomber Presence” (CBP) program, the statement reiterated.
According to USINDOPACOM, the exercises were carried out within the space determined by international laws, a space considered “vital to the principles that are the basis of the global rules-based operating system.”
Flights may have continued for more than a day, as Air Force images dated Aug. 2 show that a B-52 had been refueled.
According to publicly available US government announcements, a B-52 aircraft flew into the East China Sea after taking off from Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana. After conducting a “routine training mission”, the planes landed at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, a US territory in Micronesia.
In June, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying criticized the presence of US bombers in the South China Sea. “Running around freely is risky,” she told reporters.
“China will not fear any ship or military aircraft and we will take all necessary measures to defend the sovereignty and stability of the country, to protect the peace and stability of the South China Sea,” Beijing’s spokeswoman reiterated.
The US has repeatedly criticized Beijing for “militarizing” disputed areas of the South China Sea with the construction of military infrastructure on archipelagos also claimed by several other nations. China has repeatedly responded that it is exercising its right to defend its sovereignty in response to US provocations.
In June, after another B-52 incursion into the region, Hua told reporters during a briefing: “I hope the US will make it clear whether they are considering sending strategic offensive weapons like B-52 bombers into the South China Sea to militarize it[ …] If you have someone habitually coming to your door heavily armed , should you not strengthen your security and defense capabilities? “