South China Sea Standoff
U.S. Challenging China by Air and by Sea

Earlier this week, a few days ahead of President Obama’s trip to Asia, a pair of American B-52 bombers flew through the Spratly archipelago. The Wall Street Journal has the story:

Two U.S. B-52 bombers flew near a cluster of Chinese-built artificial islands in the disputed South China Sea this week, U.S. officials said, the latest in a series of American challenges to Beijing’s maritime claims.

The aircraft took off from Andersen Air Force Base on the Pacific island of Guam and flew around the Spratly Islands on the afternoon of Sunday, Nov. 8, said U.S. Army Maj. Dave Eastburn, a spokesman for the U.S. Pacific Command.

Chinese air traffic control contacted one of the bombers while it was in international airspace, outside of the 12-mile exclusion zone claimed by China around its manmade outposts, warning it that it had “violated the security of my reef.” The U.S. did not confirm whether the planes had subsequently entered the claimed 12-mile exclusion zone. In 2013, the United States also flew B-52s through China’s claimed Air Defense Identification Zone over disputed islands in the East China Sea.

Amid continuing confusion about whether Washington is committed to confronting Beijing in the South China Sea, count this story for those who say the United States is plenty serious.

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