Where's US aircraft carrier going?
The White House on Wednesday denied that it was misleading the public about the whereabouts of a US aircraft carrier heading toward the Korean Peninsula, while Beijing urged relevant parties to "act in a constructive way" for peace.
"The president said that we have an armada going towards the peninsula. That's a fact. It happened. It is happening, rather," said White House spokesman Sean Spicer at a briefing.
In a statement released on April 9, the US Navy announced that the USS Carl Vinson strike group was directed to skip a previously planned port visit to Australia and to sail north from Singapore a day before, according to the Navy's news release.
The announcement did not specify where the strike group was heading, but two days later, US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said, "She (Carl Vinson) operates freely up and down the Pacific, and she's just on her way up there because that's where we thought it was most prudent to have her at this time."
However, a US navy photo showed that the Carl Vinson was transiting the Sunda Strait on its way to drills with Australia on Saturday.
Saturday was when the Democratic People's Republic of Korea showcased its military muscle during celebrations marking the 105th birth anniversary of DPRK founder Kim Il Sung, Xinhua reported on Wednesday.
Confusion has since intensified about the strike group's whereabouts.
In Beijing on Wednesday, when asked to comment on reports that Trump's "armada" was sailing away from, not toward, the Korean Peninsula, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said, "What is needed at the moment is for all relevant parties to lower tensions, rather than aggravating the situation by provoking each other."
He said the situation on the Korean Peninsula is already very complicated and sensitive and tense, and all relevant parties who do not wish to see an escalation of tension shall speak and act in a constructive way.
"Some American officials did make some positive and constructive remarks regarding the peninsula situation, such as using whatever peaceful means possible to resolve the peninsula nuclear issue," Lu said.
On Monday, Susan Thornton, acting assistant secretary of state, said at a briefing that the United States preferred to resolve the issue "through the peaceful denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula," adding that the United States was not after conflicts or "regime change."
On Tuesday, Mattis said the United States, China, South Korea and Japan all share the same interest in having a denuclearized peninsula.
"This represents a general direction that we believe is correct and should be adhered to," Lu said.
The US military's Pacific Command explained on Tuesday that the strike group first had to complete a shorter-than-initially planned period of training with Australia, but was now heading toward the Western Pacific, Reuters reported on Wednesday.