China, Russia 'track US carrier' near E. China Sea

US aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson arriving for an annual joint military exercise called "Foal Eagle" between South Korea and US, at the port of Busan, South Korea, on March 15, 2017.
US aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson arriving for an annual joint military exercise called "Foal Eagle" between South Korea and US, at the port of Busan, South Korea, on March 15, 2017. PHOTO: REUTERS

TOKYO • As a United States naval strike force makes its way to the waters near the Korean peninsula, ships from China and Russia are in hot pursuit in a bid to keep track of the movement of the American ships.

Citing multiple Japanese government sources, Japan's Yomiuri Shimbun reported on Sunday that China and Russia have sent intelligence-gathering vessels in pursuit of the US naval group led by the USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier.

Japan's Self-Defence Forces are also stepping up warning and surveillance activities in the waters and airspace around the area, the sources told Yomiuri Shimbun.

The US has not ruled out military action against North Korea, which launched a failed missile test early on Sunday.

US National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster blasted the North for its latest provocation and warned on Sunday that all options were on the table against it.

But China and Russia are concerned over the tough US stance, with foreign ministers from both countries calling for a peaceful resolution of the North Korean nuclear issue.

The dispatch of the intelligence-gathering vessels may be meant in part to send a warning to the US, Yomiuri Shimbun reported.

The US naval strike group is understood to be near the East China Sea and heading to waters near the Korean peninsula.

There is worry that North Korea may conduct its sixth nuclear test or test-launch intercontinental ballistic missiles to coincide with the 85th anniversary of the founding of its military next Tuesday.

Through exercises with Japan's Maritime Self-Defence Force and other means, the strike group looks to step up the pressure on Pyongyang to exercise restraint.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 18, 2017, with the headline 'China, Russia 'track US carrier' near E. China Sea'. Print Edition | Subscribe