Chinese warships spotted off Alaska coast, US Coast Guard says

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Multiple Chinese military warships were spotted off the coast of Alaska over the weekend, the US Coast Guard announced.

In a statement released on Wednesday, the US Coast Guard said that it detected three vessels approximately 124 miles (200km) north of the Amchitka Pass in the Aleutian Islands, as well as another vessel approximately 84 miles (135km) north of the Amukta Pass, a strait between the Bering Sea and the north Pacific Ocean.

All four Chinese vessels were “transiting in international waters but still inside the US exclusive economic zone, which extends 200 nautical miles from the US shoreline”, according to the US Coast Guard.

“The Chinese naval presence operated in accordance with international rules and norms,” R Adm Megan Dean of the US Coast Guard said, adding: “We met presence with presence to ensure there were no disruptions to US interests in the maritime environment around Alaska.”

Responding to US Coast Guard radio communication, the Chinese vessels said their purpose was “freedom of navigation operations”.

“Coast guard cutter Kimball continued to monitor all ships until they transited south of the Aleutian Islands into the north Pacific Ocean. The Kimball continues to monitor activities in the US exclusive economic zone to ensure the safety of US vessels and international commerce in the area,” the US Coast Guard said.

Last August, the US dispatched four navy warships in addition to a reconnaissance airplane after multiple Chinese and Russian military vessels carried out a joint naval patrol near Alaska.

At the time, the flotilla, which experts said appeared to be the largest to approach US territory, was described as a “highly provocative” maneuver amid Russia’s ongoing war in Ukraine as well as political tensions between the US and China over Taiwan.

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