U.S. OFFICIALS AT LOSS TO EXPLAIN CHINESE WARSHIPS OFF COAST OF ALASKA

Not to worry…global warming  climate change is a much bigger threat to America. Just ask Obama…

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Five Chinese navy ships are currently operating in the Bering Sea off the coast of Alaska, Pentagon officials said Wednesday, marking the first time the U.S. military has seen them in the area.

The officials have been tracking the movements in recent days of three Chinese combat ships, a replenishment vessel and an amphibious landing ship after observing them moving toward the Aleutian Islands, which are split between U.S. and Russian control.

“This would be a first in the vicinity of the Aleutian Islands,” one defense official said of the Chinese ships, which have been operating in international waters. “I don’t think we’d characterize anything they’re doing as threatening,” the official said.

A spokesman for the Chinese embassy in Washington couldn’t immediately be reached to comment.

Chinese officials have complained in the past that the U.S. is meddling in their affairs by flying military jets near a chain of islands known as the Spratlys in the South China Sea.

The presence of the Chinese ships so close to U.S. shores is the latest demonstration of how China’s military is rapidly expanding its operations far from its own coast to oversee the nation’s growing global interests.

U.S. officials were at a loss to explain the Chinese naval movements, which came as President Barack Obama was visiting Alaska and the Arctic region on a three-day trip to address climate change.

The naval operation took place just before Chinese President Xi Jinping was set to preside over a World War II Victory Day parade Thursday in Beijing, an event that the U.S. and its allies fear is being used to showcase China’s new military strength and ambition.

Mr. Xi also is heading to the U.S. later this month for a state visit, which has already been overshadowed by tensions over Chinese military activity, including alleged cyberattacks on the U.S. and island-building in the South China Sea.

China has repeatedly said that its military activities aren’t designed to threaten any other nation but are expanding in tandem with its economic power, as well as its interests and responsibilities around the world.

Pentagon officials said Wednesday that the Chinese ships were still in the area, but declined to specify when the vessels were first spotted or how far they were from the coast of Alaska, where Mr. Obama wound up his visit Wednesday.

Pentagon officials also said there was no information suggesting the Chinese ships had gone through the Bering Strait, a narrow waterway north of the sea that abuts Alaska.

“We respect the freedom of all nations to operate military vessels in international waters in accordance with international law,” said Cmdr. Bill Urban, a Pentagon spokesman, noting: “This is the first time we have observed [People’s Liberation Army Navy] ships in the Bering Sea.”

U.S. government officials acknowledged the curious timing of the Chinese ships navigating in the waters near Alaska at a time when President Obama is there, but White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Beijing’s intent was still unclear.

The Pentagon official said there were a “variety of opinions” on how to interpret the Chinese ships’ deployment.

“It’s difficult to tell exactly, but it indicates some interest in the Arctic region,” the official said. “It’s different.”

To read entire story: WSJ


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