China is furious over the continued presence of U.S. forces in the South China Sea. According to reports, American warships have conducted another air and naval exercise in the region. Beijing monitored the entire military drill with resentment and continually warned Washington to vacate the area, which they claim as their territory.

Why does the United States continue to hold drills in contested waters?

The United States conducts Freedom of Navigation operations in the international waters. It is to the interest of America for the U.N. resolution over the laws of the seas is enforced.

The U.S. Navy have long regarded the contested region as an important strategic area in Asia because of the major sea lanes that go through the area. Controlling this area will effectively control its billion dollars worth of shipping that course through this region.

China had effectively claimed almost the entire area and have fortified many islands both natural and man-made. However, despite this the United States continued on with its operations in the region. The U.S. air force in cooperation with the navy conducted a 10-hour flight mission from Andersen Air base in Guam to pass over the USS Sterett, an Arleigh Burke class guided missile destroyer in the South China Sea.

How did China respond to continued U.S. presence in South China Sea?

Beijing officially stated that they were monitoring the exercise and maintains its vigilance over U.S. military activities in the area. This was stated by the Chinese defense ministry early Friday in response to the recent U.S. drills. They are adamant to safeguard national sovereignty, security and stability in the highly contested region.

China had already conducted its own military drills in the region comprising three helicopters and two type 056 corvettes.

However, tension continues to mount as Chinese vessels and its U.S. counterparts increase in number in the region, which can result in an unwanted incident. Though most of the area contested is technically international waters, China continues to claim it as part of their rightful territory.

Beijing continually warns U.S. ships entering the region to immediately leave but all warnings are disregarded.

It is uncertain how will the tension in this region plays out but China has no intention of backing away from claiming large portions of the South China Sea. With the growing presence of the U.S. navy in the Asia, it is really a matter time that the tension will be so critical that any flash can start an all out war.