The United States has, for the first time, deployed a P-8 Poseidon spy plane in Singapore for “maritime security efforts” amid simmering tensions over China’s territorial claims in the South China Sea. The spy plane’s deployment on Monday comes weeks after the U.S. sent the guided missile destroyer USS Lassen within the 12-nautical mile limit that China claims marks its territorial waters.
The P-8 Poseidon’s deployment deal was reached after U.S. Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter met Ng Eng Hen, his Singaporean counterpart, in Washington Monday. The deployment in Singapore will be based for a week, according to the U.S. Department of Defense.
“[Both] sides agreed on a broad framework for defense cooperation in five key areas, namely in the military, policy, strategic and technology spheres, as well as cooperation against non-conventional security challenges, such as piracy and transnational terrorism,” the defense department said in a statement.
An unnamed U.S. defense official told the Associated Press that similar deployments in Singapore were likely to become common occurrence every three months. The U.S. has also operated the Poseidon spy planes from Japan and the Philippines.
Beijing has laid claim to most of the South China Sea, leading to territorial disputes with several countries, including Vietnam, the Philippines and Malaysia. The world's second-largest economy has also been involved in a separate dispute with Japan over islands in the East China Sea.
Late October, the U.S. angered Beijing by sending a guided missile destroyer within territorial waters claimed by China. China's foreign ministry said at the time that the country expressed its "strong discontent" and "resolute opposition" to the U.S. action, which it argued threatened the sovereignty and security interests of China.