01 October 2018
Recent U.S. bomber flights over the contested South China Sea could boost the security of Southeast Asian countries that claim the waterway as Washington’s planes help check any maritime expansion by the dispute’s major player, China.
Analysts believe the periodic B-52 bomber flyovers, including two last month, would give Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam a layer of protection against Beijing, which is pressuring the maritime sovereignty claims of all four in the resource-rich South China Sea.
Stratofortress bomber aircraft “conducted operations” in the South China Sea and Indian Ocean September 23 and 25, the U.S. military’s Pacific Air Forces said in a statement last week. The B-52-model aircraft had set out from Guam for a “routine training mission,” the statement said.
… Washington is using the flights as a “pressure” tactic over the two-way trade dispute, said Alan Chong, associate professor at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore. The U.S. government has placed import tariffs on $250 billion of Chinese goods this year, part of a campaign this year by President Donald Trump.
The U.S. bomber missions also warn China against over-militarizing the sea, he said.
“It creates more maneuvering space for the Pentagon and by extension the Trump Administration,” Chong said. “And China, I think, will have to watch carefully. It’s a development I think most of Southeast Asia would welcome, even if they don’t openly admit it, because it’s a way of signaling to the Chinese that they should not militarize beyond what they have already done.”
CMS / GPO / Online
Last updated on 02/10/2018