President Obama isn't the only one making a visit to Alaska this week, according to a new report from Pentagon officials. The U.S. military has spotted five Chinese navy ships off the coast of Alaska in the Bering Sea, heading in the direction of the Aleutian Islands. The presence of the Chinese ships, including three combat ships, a replenishment vessel, and an amphibious ship, marks the first time that the U.S. military has reported seeing "any such activity in the area," The Wall Street Journal reports.
Although China's defense ministry could not be reached by the Journal for comment, the presence of Chinese warships close to U.S. territory is likely connected to China's efforts to ramp up its military activity as its economic power expands. "I don't think we'd characterize anything they're doing as threatening," one defense official told The Wall Street Journal.
Other officials theorized that the ships' presence could be due to China's growing interest in using the Northern Sea Route to transport goods, since that route between Asia and the West can be up to several days faster than the Suez Canal route. "It's difficult to tell exactly, but it indicates some interest in the Arctic region," one Pentagon official said. "It's different." Becca Stanek
Subscribe to The Week
Escape your echo chamber. Get the facts behind the news, plus analysis from multiple perspectives.
Create an account with the same email registered to your subscription to unlock access.