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World

Chinese Navy ships enter US waters off Alaska

WASHINGTON — Five Chinese Navy ships that sailed this week off the coast of Alaska entered U.S. territorial waters, but they have since left the area, Pentagon officials said Friday.

Capt. Jeff Davis, a Defense Department spokesman, said that at one point the ships had come within 12 nautical miles of the United States, which put them inside U.S. territorial waters. But Davis said that it was a “legal transit’’ of the ships in the Bering Sea and that the Chinese had complied with international law.

Defense officials said that this was the first time that the U.S. military had noted such activity by China. The ships’ arrival in the area came as President Barack Obama was touring Alaska.

The Chinese venture into waters off the Alaskan coast occurred as China has increasingly been flexing its military muscle, particularly in waters off the coast of China. Beijing has increased military spending and now has an aircraft carrier, the Liaoning.

Last year, Chinese officials took Chuck Hagel, the defense secretary at the time, on a tour of the carrier, and many U.S. officials interpreted the move as an effort to project Chinese naval power, particularly in light of tensions between Beijing and its neighbors over disputed islands in the East and South China Seas.

But Beijing announced this week that it was cutting its military by 300,000 people, a move that U.S. officials said was meant to project China’s peaceful intentions — but also a signal that President Xi Jinping intends to reorganize and modernize the Chinese military.

BEIJING

BERING SEA

BUT BEIJING

BUT DAVIS

CHUCK HAGEL

DEFENSE DEPARTMENT

EAST AND SOUTH CHINA SEAS

FIVE CHINESE NAVY

JEFF DAVIS

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA

PRESIDENT XI JINPING

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