The Chinese navy conducted training for its armed fighter jets just days after a US warship sailed by contested islands in the South China Sea.
On Tuesday, the USS Lassen passed through a 12-mile limit around a reef in the contested Spratly Islands archipelago. In addition to China, several nations in the region- including the Philippines and Vietnam – claim sovereignty over the Islands.
On Saturday, the Chinese Navy released photos of an armed aircraft being launched from an unidentified, recently constructed, airstrip in the South China Sea. Military experts believe the airstrip is located off the coast of Hainan, about 370 miles from the disputed reef.
The training exercise was an apparent response to America’s move last week.
Beijing protested the mission in the South China Sea, accusing the US of escalating tensions in the region. The US rejects the claim and insists that the warship sailed through international waters, according to rt.com.
But China believes its sea rights were “breached.” The Chinese foreign ministry said in a statement: “The actions of the US warship have threatened China’s sovereignty and security interests, jeopardized the safety of personnel and facilities on the reefs, and damaged regional peace and stability.”
The U.S. has reportedly “shrugged off” the criticism, and will continue to do patrols in international space.