China issues warning following U.S. aircraft carrier drills

July 6 (UPI) — China condemned U.S. aircraft carrier drills in the South China Sea, as state media claimed the exercises were a showy display of “paper tigers” in waters China has claimed as its own.

Beijing’s foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian suggested Monday at a regular press briefing the U.S. military’s deployment of aircraft carriers may have an underlying motive that threatens regional security.

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The U.S. exercises “interfere with the relations among countries in the South China Sea, and undermine peace and stability in the region,” Zhao said.

On Saturday, Rear Adm. George Wikoff, the strike group commander, said the USS Ronald Reagan and USS Nimitz carriers sailed into an area of the South China Sea for training purposes.

The drills came after Beijing conducted its own exercises near the China-claimed Paracel Islands from Wednesday to Sunday.

China has also conducted “missile training” in the Bohai Bay, the northwestern and innermost gulf of the Yellow Sea, according to state tabloid Global Times.

“Because the People’s Liberation Army has thoroughly secured new weapons to destroy aircraft carriers, the United States’ carriers are just paper tigers,” the Global Times stated Monday in an editorial.

Chinese state media also quoted local military experts, who suggested the United States was stepping up drills in response to the imposition of a new national security law in Hong Kong.

Beijing-based naval expert Li Jie told the Chinese news service that the “United States seeks to display that its military strength is at its most powerful, amid challenges posed by COVID-19.”

“The loss of the ‘Hong Kong card’ through the passage of the Hong Kong Security Law is another reason the United States is turning its focus to the South China Sea and Taiwan,” Li added.

On Monday morning, U.S. President Donald Trump condemned China on Twitter.

“China has caused great damage to the United States and the rest of the World!” Trump tweeted, likely referring to the global coronavirus pandemic.

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