Satellite images showed a US warship shadowing a Chinese aircraft carrier and its strike group on Monday in the Philippine Sea.
According to a report from Newsweek, the Chinese carrier Liaoning five other People’s Liberation Army (PLA) vessels were returning to the East China Sea from a deployment in the South China Sea. The image appears to show a US Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer, a type of US Navy vessel that is frequently sailing in the region.
The satellite images showed the US vessel was following closely behind the Liaoning and was sailing amongst the other Chinese warships.
The US and Chinese navies frequently sail near each other, but the US warship entering the flotilla is unusual. A Taiwanese military analyst told Newsweek that the PLA could have allowed the US warship to sail with the strike group to give the impression of transparency or to show that the PLA doesn’t see the US vessel as a threat.
The US military has been keeping a close eye on the Liaoning as part of its military provocations in the region. Last week, a video posted to Chinese social media by a fisherman showed a US warship shadowing the Liaoning while it was conducting exercises near the Paracel Islands in the South China Sea. Earlier in the month, the US Navy released a photo of officers watching the Chinese carrier from the deck of the USS Mustin in the Philippine Sea.
Japan has also been keeping tabs on the Chinese warship since it has made recent passages through a waterway near Okinawa. On Tuesday, Japan’s Defense Ministry said the six vessels of the Liaoning’s strike group had sailed through the Miyako Strait between the Japanese islands of Miyako and Okinawa.