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US Sends B-52s Near Islands Claimed by China

FILE - A B-52 strategic bomber from the United States Air Force

FILE - A B-52 strategic bomber from the United States Air Force

Tensions have increased between the United States and China over territorial claims in the South China Sea.

Two B-52 bombers from the United States flew near islands claimed by China in the South China Sea on November 8 and 9, according to U.S. military officials.

The pilots received verbal warnings from Chinese ground controllers, the U.S. officials said.

This is another example of the conflict over China’s claims that it controls most of the South China Sea. United States officials say they are working to retain free navigation in the South China Sea both via ship and aircraft.

The South China Sea is a key route for products being shipped from one country to another.

South China Sea claims, Oct., 2015

South China Sea claims, Oct., 2015

Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, the Philippines and Taiwan also make claims for navigation access to the South China Sea.

U.S. Department of Defense spokesman Peter Cook discussed the B-52 flights at his regular briefing Thursday.

“I know that we conduct B-52 flights in international airspace in that part of the world all the time,” Cook said. “There was an effort made by Chinese ground controllers to reach out to that aircraft, and that aircraft continued that mission unabated.”

Last month, the United States sent a war ship near a man-made island claimed by China. It was seen as a direct United States challenge to China’s claim of control over China’s man-made islands.

President Barack Obama is expected to raise his demands for free navigation across the South China Sea during an Asia-Pacific Summit next week in Manila.

Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman Hong Lei said the summit is not the right meeting to discuss the South China Sea dispute. “The East Asia Summit and relevant meetings focus on regional cooperation and development,” he said.

I'm Jonathan Evans.

William Gallo reported on this story for Bruce Alpert adapted this story for Learning English. Kathleen Struck was the editor.


Words in This Story

tension – n. a state in which people, groups, countries, etc., disagree with and feel anger toward each other

territorialadj. of or relating to land or water that is owned or controlled by a government

ground controllers -- n. people who direct air traffic

navigationn. the act of moving in a boat or ship over an area of water

relevant -- adj. relating to a subject in an appropriate way

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