China Twitter laughs at US carrier commanded to go to North Korea, but seen training in Australia
The Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70). Pic/AFP
Beijing: America's allies in Asia were silent on Wednesday over confusion about a US aircraft carrier group that was supposed to be headed toward North Korea in a show of force, but was actually completing training exercises in Australia.
But many Chinese took to social media to joke about it. "American imperialism is a paper tiger," said a user on Weibo, China's Twitter. "The aircraft carrier was sleep-walking," said another.
The US military's Pacific Command explained that the Carl Vinson strike group first had to complete a shorter-than-initially planned period of training with Australia. But it was now "proceeding as ordered," it said.
US President Donald Trump said last week that he had ordered the strike group to head for Korean waters amid talk that unpredictable North Korea was likely to conduct a nuclear or long-range ballistic missile test.
"We cannot comment on details of US operation of its assets," a military official said in Seoul, the capital of South Korea.
Japan, the other main US ally in the region, did not comment on the mix-up, while China's foreign ministry declined to comment at a briefing.
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Tokyo: US VP Mike Pence said on Wednesday that Washington would work with its allies and China to put economic and diplomatic pressure on North Korea, but added that America would defeat any attack with an "overwhelming response". Pence arrived in Tokyo on Tuesday from South Korea.