China accused the US of having “ulterior motives” after Washington ran its largest military exercise in the South China Sea in years over the weekend. The exercise coincided with Chinese Naval drills held in the same area near the Paracel Islands, a disputed archipelago.
The US Navy’s Seventh Fleet ran the exercise, which involved two aircraft carriers, under the guise of supporting “a free and open Indo-Pacific.” But China’s Foreign Ministry Spokesman Zhao Lijian said the US was just looking to “show off its muscles.”
“The US intentionally sent a military deployment for large-scale exercises in the South China Sea, and to show off its muscle,” Zhao said. “They have ulterior motives. The US is creating division among nations in the region and militarizing the South China Sea.”
Global Times, a nationalist Chinese state-funded media outlet, tweeted on Saturday that China has “a large selection of anti-aircraft carrier weapons” and said they have “aircraft carrier killer” missiles. The Global Times also said any US aircraft carrier “movement in the region is at the pleasure” of China’s Peoples’ Liberation Army (PLA).
The US Navy’s Chief of Information Twitter account retweeted the Global Times tweet about the missiles on Sunday and said the USS Ronald Reagan and USS Nimitz are “not intimidated.” The US Navy also posted a meme on Instagram that suggests it has no plans of staying out of the South China Sea.