China's Ministry of National Defense (MND) has confirmed that the US activities in the South China Sea are under surveillance.
The announcement comes in response to a media query regarding the deployment of a pair of B-1B Lancers from the US Air Force (USAF) to carry out a 10-hour flight through the South China Sea from Andersen Air Force Base in Guam.
Two B-1Bs from the USAF’s 9th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron were training alongside the US Navy's Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Sterett (DDG 104) in the sea.
The joint training was organised under the US Pacific Command's continuous bomber presence programme.
It was aimed at increasing interoperability between the airforce and navy, by refining joint tactics, techniques and procedures, while simultaneously strengthening their ability to seamlessly integrate their operations, the USAF stated.
Commenting on US activities over the South China Sea, China MND stated: "China always remains vigilant and keeps effective surveillance over the military activities of the related countries in the South China Sea."
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The ministry added: "The Chinese military will resolutely safeguard national sovereignty and security, and maintain regional peace and stability.”
The latest report from the US Department of Defense (DoD) revealed that, as of 2016, China was constructing 24 fighter-sized hangars and fixed weapons positions on South China Sea outposts.
Upon completion of these facilities, China would have the capacity to house up to three regiments of fighters in the Spratly Islands.
Image: A US Air Force B-1B Lancer assigned to the 9th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron. Photo: courtesy of the US Air Force photo/Staff Sergeant Joshua Smoot.