Kuala Lumpur, Aug 4:
China has deployed warships and sent fighter jets on a long-haul flight to bases it occupies in the disputed Spratly island chain, according to satellite imagery and state media, in the latest show of Chinese military strength in the South China Sea.
That comes ahead of a major, multi-nation military exercise led by the United States planned for Aug. 17 to 31 near Hawaii which will be attended by nations across the Indo-Pacific. A Philippine naval ship has already set sail for the Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) drills. Other nations expected to attend include Vietnam, Australia, Brunei, Singapore, Japan, Malaysia and Indonesia.
Spratly Islands consisting of 19 islands located off the coast of the Philippines and Malaysia. This region has been claimed by both of these nations as well as China and Vietnam.In terms of energy security, the Spratly Islands are considered indispensable to countries in the region due to the potential sources of natural gas and oil found under the islands’ seabed.
The U.S. dubs China’s claims to Spratly Islands as illegal that sits on the Philippine . U.S. State Department stated on July 13 that China holds no lawful territorial or maritime claim as Spratly Islands is sitting well within Philippine waters.