A report from the Pentagon on Wednesday that five Chinese Navy ships were spotted off the coast of Alaska.

Pentagon authorities have been tracking the movements in recent days of three Chinese combat ships, a replenishment vessel and an amphibious landing ship after observing them moving toward the Aleutian Islands, which are split between U.S. and Russian control.

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Officials declined to say how close the vessels are to American shores, but stressed that the ships remain in international waters.

“We respect the freedom of all nations to operate military vessels in international waters in accordance with international law. We are aware of the five People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) ships in the Bering Sea,” said Commander Bill Urban, a Pentagon spokesman, confirming a story first reported by the Wall Street Journal.

“This is the first time we have observed PLAN ships in the Bering Sea.”

“It’s hard to tell precisely, however it demonstrates some enthusiasm for the Arctic area,” the authority told the Wall Street Journal.

A source from the US military said there is a possibility that China is also interested in the huge volume of oil deposits and other mineral resources in the Arctic, and to construct another Chinese military bases and in the end they will declare the area as their own historical territory just like what they did in the Spratly or in the South China sea.

China’s navy

China became a permanent observer to the Arctic Council in 2013 and has shown increased interest in the region’s energy reserves. The council’s members are the eight Arctic states: Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden and the United States.

Obama is currently in Alaska for a three-day tour of the vast state to raise awareness of the effects of climate change.

A spokesman for the Chinese embassy in Washington couldn’t immediately be reached to comment.

The presence of the Chinese ships so close to U.S. shores is the latest demonstration of how China’s military is rapidly expanding its operations far from its own coast to oversee the nation’s growing global interests.

The move could likewise be seen as a coherent response to the growing presence of the US Navy in the Pacific, and, specifically, the South China Sea. Washington has repeatedly expressed concern over Beijing’s construction of artificial islands in the Spratly. While the Chinese government has assured the US that those installations will be used primarily for humanitarian purposes, the Pentagon has staged a number of military drills with regional allies near Chinese waters.

The Chinese military also recently completed joint drills with Russia approximately 2,000 miles west of the Bering Sea.

The Chinese defense ministry has not provided any comment on the ships.

Featured image – used only for presentation purposes.

By: Jason E. 

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