Biden says Beijing’s policies in the South China Sea are adding to tensions and the potential for conflict in the region at a graduation ceremony at a naval academy in Maryland. He says that freedom of navigation and the peaceful resolution of territorial disputes are being tested by Chinese actions in the disputed waters, the source of territorial disputes among several countries, and that the United States’ role is to keep the peace.
They’re building airstrips, the placing of oil rigs, the imposition of unilateral bans on fishing in disputed territories, the declaration of air-defence zones, the reclamation of land, which other countries are doing, but not nearly on the massive scale the Chinese are doing. Tensions run high. As I speak, they run high, but you will be there to keep the peace.
Biden also says that as part of the pivot in US foreign policy towards the Asia-Pacific there would be a significant shift of its military forces into the region.
That’s why 60 per cent of the United States naval forces will be stationed in the Asia Pacific by 2020.
The U.S.navy says the U.S.-flagged Maersk Kensington was intercepted in the Strait of Hormuz, on Friday, 24 April, by four ships of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard naval patrol.
The Iranians encircled the Kensington and followed the ship on its course for a period of time before withdrawing and breaking away.
The U.S. Navy Fifth Fleet has issued a notice to mariners about the incident.
Iran Revolutionary Guard patrol boats fire shots at a commercial cargo ship, the Marshall Islands-flagged M/V Maersk Tigris, and then intercept the vessel, which is crossing the Strait of Hormuz. The Tigris issues a distress call and the USS Farragut is ordered to head towards the incident. The Navy says it is “to be determined” what the USS Farragut will do when it reaches the vicinity of the incident.
The Pentagon thinks about 30 individuals are on board. According to a U.S. official, there are no Americans on board the vessel and the U.S. believes that Iranians will “send the ship on its way.” A State Department spokesperson notes that the U.S. has a security compact with the Marshall Islands on defense issues. But he adds that there hasn’t been a specific request for assistance from the Marshall Islands and says it is premature to say whether this could require the use of force.
It’s a key concern of the United States to ensure that sea lanes in the region remain open and safe.
Two United States Navy aircraft crash into the Pacific Ocean after apparently hitting each other. Initial reports indicate the two jets collided. The F/A 18 Hornets were assigned to the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson. One of the pilots has been found and is in fair condition, while the other pilot is missing. A search is underway for that pilot. The crash is under investigation.