Posted October. 03, 2017 08:31,
Updated October. 03, 2017 08:39
China has reportedly allowed the U.S. Navy’s nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76) to make a port call in Hong Kong this week. The 102,000 ton-class supercarrier will take part in a joint exercise with the South Korean navy around October 15 near the Northern Limit Line (NLL), the de facto maritime border between the two Koreas, to flex U.S. muscles before North Korea. Some observers view Beijing’s approval of the U.S. naval vessel’s port call as a pressure on Pyongyang.
Following the U.S. strategic bomber B-1B’s flight across the NLL for the muscle-flexing late last month, the U.S. strike group led by USS Ronald Reagan plans to hold an exercise for striking North Korea on South Korean waters closest to the North around October 15. The supercarrier also plans to stage drills with the South Korean navy for tracking and detecting North Korean ballistic missiles. Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post reported on Monday that there were growing concerns over the U.S. aircraft carrier crossing the NLL.
China has long condemned South Korea-U.S. joint military exercises around the Korean Peninsula for escalating tensions on the peninsula, stimulating Pyongyang’s security concerns over, and allowing Washington to seek hegemony in Northeast Asia. Beijing’s approval of the U.S. supercarrier’s port call in Hong Korea can be interpreted as an acquiescence over the Seoul-Washington joint muscle flexing at a time when there are concerns over Pyongyang’s new provocations around the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, which falls on October 18. The upcoming Congress meeting is expected to signal the beginning of the second term of Chinese President Xi Jinping.