The US Air Force has flown two B-52 strategic bombers within the vicinity of the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea, a US military official says, in a move that is expected to draw ire from China.
The flyovers on Monday came a day after US Secretary of Defense James Mattis warned Beijing against militarization of the islands.
The Pentagon chief accused China of “intimidation and coercion” in the Indo-Pacific region, asserting that the US was not going to end its military presence in the region.
Beijing lays claim over the Spratly Islands but the US and other countries surrounding the waters — Malaysia, Vietnam, the Philippines and Taiwan – dispute that claim.
Taking advantage of the geographic features in the region, China has built several man-made islands there, equipping some of them with advanced military facilities such as anti-ship and anti-aircraft missiles.
The unnamed US military official, who was aware of the mission’s…