Five Chinese warships that were operating off the Alaska coast earlier this week reportedly entered U.S. territorial waters and came within 12 nautical miles of the coast, Pentagon officials told the Wall Street Journal early Friday.
China’s Defense Ministry also confirmed to the paper that its naval ships had sailed to the Bering Sea for training after a joint military exercise with Russia in late August. Officials in Beijing insisted that the activity was routine and not aimed at any particular country.
Navy Commander Bill Urban, a Pentagon spokesman, confirmed to Fox News Wednesday that three surface warfare ships, one amphibious assault ship and one supply vessel from the People’s Liberation Army Navy had been sighted in the Bering Sea. It was the first time that Chinese ships had been seen in the body of water separating Alaska and Russia.
The Chinese ships’ appearance coincided with President Obama’s trip to Alaska, during which he largely focused on climate change, but also pressed Congress to approve the building of more icebreakers to counter claims to the Arctic made by Russia.
Pentagon officials told the Journal that the ships complied with international law, saying the Chinese actions were in accordance with the principal of “innocent passage.” A Pentagon spokesman defined that principle by saying the ships ““transited expeditiously and continuously through the Aleutian Island chain in a manner consistent with international law.”
Read More: Chinese warships spotted off Alaska coast reportedly passed through US waters | Fox News