This week several US bombers flew across the contested territory, with 4 B-52 aircrafts transiting across the sky above the South China Sea on Monday and an extra batch on Tuesday traveling over the East China Sea, released Sputniknews, Thursday 27 September.
Lt. Col. Dave Eastburn told Reuters on Wednesday that the bombers participated in "regularly scheduled joint operations" which are part of "a routine program designed to improve our readiness and interoperability with our partners and allies in the region."
"The United States military will continue to fly, sail and operate wherever international law permits at the time and place we choose," Eastburn added.
B-52 bombers on Tuesday were reportedly escorted by Japanese fighter jets as they flew through the Diaoyu Islands, according to CNN. Although uninhabited islands are controlled by Japan, China has claimed them as their own.
When asked about flybys this week, US Defense Secretary James Mattis told reporters at the Pentagon on Wednesday that the flight was "nothing extraordinary."
"That continues. If 20 years ago, and [China] didn't militarize those features there, it would be the same as other bombers would make their trajectories on the way to Diego Garcia or anywhere, "he said. Diego Garcia, the largest island in the Chagos Islands, is used by the US as a military base in the region.
The latest developments are Chinese authorities rejecting US Navy amphibious assault ships USS Wasp anchored in Hong Kong after the US imposed sanctions on the Chinese military for buying Russian military equipment. The rejected ship is part of a group operating in the Indo-Pacific region, according to Bloomberg.