The US carriers John C Stennis and George Washington sail in formation near Guam last month. (Photo/US Navy)
Two US carrier battle groups and a Marine Corps Air Task Force have been deployed to the Western Pacific as tensions rise over maritime disputes between China and its neighbors, reports Time Magazine.
While the carrier battle group led by the USS George Washington is operating in the East China Sea, the USS John C Stennis has been deployed to the South China Sea. Additionally, 2,200 US Marines equipped with amphibious assault vehicles, light armored vehicles, artillery, helicopters and AV-8 fighter jets have also been deployed to the Philippine Sea aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard according to Navy Live, the official blog of the US Navy. China has active territorial disputes particularly with the Philippines and Vietnam in the South China Sea.
After Japan's prime minister, Yoshihiko Noda, nationalized the Senkaku or Diaoyu islands on Sept. 11, Chinese ocean surveillance and fishery administration ships began routine patrols around the disputed waters in the East China Sea. As the islands are also claimed by Taiwan, which refers to them as Diaoyutai, Taiwanese and Japanese ships even fired water cannon at each other on Sept. 25.
While neither the PLA Navy nor the Japan Maritime Self Defense Force have deployed vessels to the region, Hong Lei, spokesman for the Chinese foreign ministry, said China will continue to send patrol boats to the area surrounding the islands administrated by Japan to defend its territory.
Though Washington officially remains neutral in the dispute, Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, has affirmed that the islands are covered by the Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security between the United States and Japan.
There may be two purposes for the deployment of the two battle groups to the Far East, according to our sister newspaper Want Daily. First, this may be a warning to China not to allow the situation with Japan to escalate into a full-scale war. Second, the United States is looking to reassure Japan after Leon Panetta, the US secretary of defense, criticized Tokyo during his visit to China last month.
A commentary in the Hong Kong-based Oriental Daily said that the United States is only saber-rattling as it would typically deploy at least three carriers to fight a local war, if that were its intent.