US Bombers Fly Over South China Sea Amid Escalating Tensions Between Taiwan And Beijing

Trade tensions between the US and China appear to have abated - at least for now - as Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and top Trump economic advisor Larry Kudlow prepare to head to Beijing to kickstar long-awaited "trade talks" with senior Chinese officials.

But while fears of a global trade war led by the world's two largest economies have faded into the background, the military tensions in the South China Sea - which have been ignored by the markets for years - continue to escalate, per CNN.

South China

Case in point: The US military has revealed that two US Air Force B-52 Stratofortress bombers flew a training mission over the South China Sea on Tuesday, eliciting a defiant response in the Global Times, one of the Communist Party's most widely read mouthpieces, per the South China Morning Post and Reuters

The widely-read Chinese state-run tabloid the Global Times said in an editorial on Friday that if the US bombers were meant to send a message to Beijing about Taiwan it would not work.

"The US cannot prevent the mainland exerting military pressure on Taiwan," it said.

The bombers took off from Andersen Air Force Base on the island of Guam, according to a statement from US Pacific Air Forces. The exercises also involved US F-15 Strike Eagle jets traveling near Okinawa. The mission was part of the US' "continuous bomber presence" in the region.


The US has been stepping up its military patrols in the South China Sea, which is claimed by China in defiance of competing claims by its neighbors and even a ruling by the International Criminal Court that recognized the Philippines' claim on some of the island territories presently dominated China. Meanwhile, using sophisticated "land-reclamation" techniques, China has been expanding rocky atolls in the area into full-fledged islands capable of supporting military infrastructure like airfields and naval bases.

US Admiral Philip Davidson, Trump's nominee to lead the US forces in the Pacific, has consistently sounded the alarm about China's intentions. Most recently, the release of a 50-page unclassified transcript on advance policy questions from Davidson detailed his view that Beijing's forces will soon be capable of "strategically overwhelming" US forces in the Pacific, largely thanks to the regime's activities in the South China Sea.

"China will be able to extend its influence thousands of miles to the south and project power deep into Oceania. The PLA will be able to use these bases to challenge U.S. presence in the region, and any forces deployed to the islands would easily overwhelm the military forces of any other South China Sea-claimants. In short, China is now capable of controlling the South China Sea in all scenarios short of war with the United States."

In an interview with CNN on Friday, Davidson again articulated his view that, by dominating the South China Sea, China will be able to keep continuous military pressure on Taiwan (the stated goal of the largest-ever live-fire military exercises in the region, which China's navy initiated earlier this month). Tensions between Taiwan and the Mainland have escalated under Tsai Ing-wen, who made a congratulatory call to President Trump in defiance of the decades-old "One China" policy, angering the Communist Party establishment on the mainland. 

As the Global Times insisted, "the US cannot prevent the mainland from exerting pressure on Taiwan."

"Mainland military aircraft will fly closer and closer to Taiwan and in the end fly above the island," the paper added. "If the Taiwan authorities openly promote the 'Taiwan independence' policy and cut off all official contacts with the mainland, the mainland will deem Taiwan a hostile regime and has endless means to deal with it."

Taiwan and the South China Sea are two major faultlines between Washington and Beijing.

Finally, all of this is happening as Taiwan is preparing its own round of military drills that are intended to simulate a Chinese invasion (one which will somehow be stopped using private drones). Also, since the beginning of the year, the US Navy has carried out at least four "freedom of navigation" - or "freeop" - operations in the South China Sea, which entails sending a US destroyer to sail up to 12 miles away from one of China's artificial islands. These mini provocations have greatly angered Beijing for years, even if China has yet to respond forcefully to US presence in the region.

Ironically, amidst all these growing geopolitical and economic tensions, President Trump and President Xi Jinping continue to insist that they share a personal friendship, and that relations between the US and China have never been better, contrary to Trump's anti-China rhetoric from the campaign.


DavidFL Sat, 04/28/2018 - 12:42 Permalink

WOW - B52's (1960's technology, sub-sonic lumbering POS) flying over the South China Sea! That should scare the shit out of China - don't ya think!

TheObsoleteMan DavidFL Sat, 04/28/2018 - 13:31 Permalink

You are wrong on both counts. First off, the B-52s were designed in the 1950s, not 1960s. But they have been continually upgraded with the latest technology, so they are as modern in allot of ways as any other bomber in our inventory, except for the stealth technology. The B-52 prints HUGE on a radar screen. There is no mistaking it for birds or commercial aircraft.

In reply to by DavidFL

snblitz GoldSilverBitcoinBug Sat, 04/28/2018 - 19:49 Permalink

Radars work by sending out some RF energy and 'seeing' what bounces back.

Then bounce back part arrives at the radar receiver's antenna.

Some stealth operates by reflecting the energy away from the receiver's antenna. Other stealth works by reflecting the energy over a broad area so the return signal is very weak. Another strategy is to absorb the energy in one wavelength and re-radiate it in another.

No real magic here.

In reply to by GoldSilverBitcoinBug

Jkweb007 TheObsoleteMan Sat, 04/28/2018 - 17:52 Permalink

Think if they can be shot down by Sams during the Vietnam war with 60`s technology and likely had the handme down from Russia missile technology today is much better. Now think S400 a country with Satelites with knowledge when ever a bomber takes off do you still think the B52, B1, B2 will really scare China? The U.S. has been attacking mickey mouse military`s and not doing so great. Now lets replace Iraq with China and you seriously think we can win. England was once great, the U.S. was once great well now its China! China is the paleface and we are the indian do you remember who wins?

In reply to by TheObsoleteMan

DemandSider DavidFL Sat, 04/28/2018 - 14:01 Permalink

"Beijing's forces will soon be capable of "strategically overwhelming" US forces in the Pacific,"

Walmart, our largest private employer's stock would drop like a rock without Communist China. Relations have changed drastically since 1949, and The PRC is now Taiwan's favorite business partner; they'd collapse without them. They know the consequences of that business alliance, so, this is now their business, not ours. Yes, we know The PRC's building islands, and there's not a damn thing you can do about it but float/fly around and waste fuel while staring like idiots. Now, sober up and get the hell home before you crash into something else.


- A U.S. Tax Payer

In reply to by DavidFL

BigJim DemandSider Sat, 04/28/2018 - 14:34 Permalink

Yup. Unless the US and its allies can instigate a "colour revolution" in China, it would be best to admit they effectively now own the South China sea. But we need to work out a containment strategy to prevent them achieving a situation of being able to threaten core Western countries, like Australia and New Zealand.

I'm no fan of the Anglo American empire, and think it should be drastically scaled back, but I think it's naive to assume that China won't try to expand beyond its own immediate sphere. They seem peaceful now - and hopefully will stay that way - but once they have built up their military to the point it is greater than the West's, then my reading of history is eventually some high-level psychopath will assume the reigns and decide it's time to go off for some conquering and subjugation of "lesser" nations. It's what we did, despite having a much more humanist and liberal culture.

In reply to by DemandSider

Koba the Dread DavidFL Sat, 04/28/2018 - 17:46 Permalink

WOW - B52's (1960's technology, sub-sonic lumbering POS) flying over the South China Sea! That should scare the shit out of China - don't ya think

Sure scares me! If I remember correctly, the B-52 first flew test flights in the early fifties. That makes it late 1940s technology. I wonder how it evades SAMs? Probably takes evasive measures.

In reply to by DavidFL

Sirius Wonderblast DavidFL Sat, 04/28/2018 - 19:24 Permalink

1) If you're launching cruise missiles from them the bombers can be an awful long way away, so speed and agility are fairly irrelevant

2) So this is about display - airborne equivalent of USS Missouri, or indeed carriers.

3) Do I recall America doesn't like Tupolevs being flown along it's west coast? Hypocrisy much?

In reply to by DavidFL