Nov 30 Reuters -- The United States has completed ten days of joint military drills in Asian waters with Japan and other allies as it increases its ante on deterring China from pursuing its territorial ambitions amid growing tension in the region over Taiwan.
The ANNUALEX drill included 35 warships and dozens of aircraft in the Philippine Sea off Japan's southern coast. The U.S. and Japanese forces were led by the nuclear-powered USS Carl Vinson carrier, which was joined by ships from Canada, Australia and for the first time, Germany. On Tuesday, the Vinson was being shadowed by a Chinese navy ship.
We try to deter aggression from some nations that are showing burgeoning strength that maybe we haven't experienced before, U.S. At a briefing aboard the carrier, Seventh Fleet commander Vice Admiral Karl Thomas said.
He said that the exercise was meant to tell those nations that maybe today is not the day.
Thomas was accompanied by the commander of the exercise, Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force Vice Admiral Hideki Yuasa. Tokyo is Washington's ally in the region, home to the biggest concentration of American forces outside the United States.
There is increasing pressure on Taiwan by China, which is causing concern in both Japan and the United States. If it gains control of the island, Japan worries that key sea lanes supplying it will come under Beijing's sway. That move would threaten U.S. military bases in the region.
China, which views Taiwan as a breakaway province, says its intentions are peaceful.
The ten-day exercise caps a year of drills between the United States, Japan, Britain, France, Germany and the Netherlands.
The HMS Queen Elizabeth, a $4.15 billion aircraft carrier, was deployed to the region this year, culminating in a visit to Japan in September, along with two destroyers, two frigates and a submarine.
To get there, it sailed through the contested South China SeaChina Sea, of which China claims 90%. In September Britain's HMS Richmond passed through the Taiwan Strait separating the island from mainland China, prompting a rebuke from Beijing.
In its latest annual defence strategy paper, Tokyo identified China as its main national security threat and said it had a sense of crisis regarding Taiwan as Chinese military activity around the island intensifies.
The British carrier joined a Japanese carrier, along with the Vinson -- which operates F-35 stealth jets and the USS Ronald Reagan -- for a rare four-carrier training exercise in the waters around Japan.