In what reportedly is a first, five ships from China's navy
have been spotted in the Bering Sea, operating in international waters
off the Alaskan coast, Pentagon officials tell The Wall Street Journal. The newspaper reports:
officials said they have been aware in recent days that three Chinese
combat ships, a replenishment vessel and an amphibious ship were in the
vicinity after observing them moving toward the Aleutian Islands, which
are split between U.S. and Russian control.
"They said 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 President Barack Obama is winding up a three-day visit."
The U.S. officials also tell the Journal that the military ships aren't seen as behaving in a threatening way.
reported Chinese activity is seen as the latest sign of China's
ambitions to project its influence beyond its territorial waters.
NPR's Tom Bowman offers this analysis:
expert David Finkelstein with the Center for Naval Analyses, a think
tank that does a lot of work with the Pentagon, has likened China to
America in the early 1900s when Theodore Roosevelt was in the White
House: a growing power that wants to be considered a player on the world
stage. Roosevelt famously sent the U.S. Navy's 'great white fleet' on a
worldwide tour to drive home this point."
sighting also comes on the same day Beijing is hosting a large military
parade and celebration to mark the end of World War II. As part of
those events, Chinese President Xi Jinping is hosting leaders from a
number of neighboring countries.