U.S. aircraft carrier cruises disputed Asian seas

HO CHI MINH CITY, Vietnam — America sent a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier on a cruise through the South China Sea on Saturday, projecting its power in waters that are fast becoming a focal point of its strategic rivalry with Beijing.

The USS George Washington’s mission could raise hackles in China, which is locked in disputes with Vietnam, the Philippines and other governments over ownership of islands in the region.

It will likely reassure the jittery smaller nations of Washington’s support in their tussles with China, whose growing economic and military might is leading to a greater assertiveness in pressing its claims in the South China Sea. The United States is building closer economic and military alliances with Vietnam and other nations in the region as part of a “pivot” away from the Middle East to Asia.

China is also locked in an unexpectedly fierce dispute with American ally Japan over the ownership of islands in the nearby East China Sea. On Friday, Beijing staged military exercises near the islands to demonstrate its ability to enforce its claims.

China claims nearly all of the South China Sea, where the U.S. says it has a national interest in ensuring freedom of navigation in an area crossed by vital shipping lanes. Vietnam, the Philippines and several other Asian nations also claim parts of the sea.

The U.S. Navy regularly patrols the Asia-Pacific region, and the trip by the George Washington off the coast of Vietnam is its second in two years.

A second aircraft carrier, the USS John C. Stennis, is also conducting operations in the western Pacific region, according to the U.S. Pacific Fleet.

“China will take this as another expression by the United States of its desire to maintain regional domination,” said Denny Roy, a senior fellow at the East-West Center in Hawaii. “The U.S also wants to send a message to the region that it is here for the long haul …. and that it wants to back up international law.”

Vietnam is pleased to accept help from its one-time foe America as a hedge against its giant neighbor China. It has reacted angrily to recent moves by Beijing to establish a garrison on one of the Paracel islands, which Vietnam also claims. The United States also criticized the move by Beijing.

“Vietnam requests China to respect the sovereignty of Vietnam and refrain from taking any other similar wrongdoings,” the Foreign Ministry said this month.

While most analysts believe military confrontation in the waters is highly unlikely, they say tensions are likely to increase as China continues pressing its claims and building its navy.

More in Local News

Designed for special emergencies, texting 911 widely misused

The majority of texts dispatchers receive are better handled by calling, a SNOPAC official says.

Signs show the rates for using the express toll lanes for traffic headed southbound on Interstate 405, Tuesday, Feb. 16, 2016, in Bothell, Wash. Gov. Jay Inslee announced plans Tuesday to try to decrease congestion on I-405 in answer to commuter complaints that the new express lane tolling system is making traffic worse. The governor said he would not be shutting down the tolling system as some people have called for. But the state transportation department is making plans to add new northbound general purpose lanes to ease some of the congestion and also plan to make it easier to move into and out of the express lanes. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
After a 2-year trial, are I-405’s toll lanes here to stay?

Lawmakers will decide whether to keep them or end the experiment and try something else.

Weary drivers using toll lanes say they have little choice

Congestion continues to be a tedious reality for commuters on I-405, which is as clogged as ever.

Arlington woman dies 4 days after Marysville crash

She was on the northbound onramp from Fourth Street to I-5 when her pickup hit a tree and fence.

Council passes six-month moratorium on safe injection sites

Proposal by County Councilman Nate Nehring passed unanimously.

Terrace woman held following collision in Everett

The three occupants in vehicle were transported to a local hospital in serious condition.

Information sought on drive-by shooting in Everett

Debris from an apparent crash, evidence of gunfire found in the 2800 block of California Street.

Longboarders from near and far hit the trail in Arlington

The Centennial Sk8 Festival was serious competition for some and just for fun for others.

Everett’s lawsuit against maker of OxyContin can proceed

Purdue Pharma says it’s not liable for the impacts of opioid addiction and wanted the case tossed.

Most Read