In our own backyard, but mostly unreported in NZ media
China dispatches military vessels & fighter jets to warn off US warship
4 July, 2017
End of the Honeymoon: China accuses US of military provocation
The game playing continues[ Note: It’s summer time, and the news cycle can get slow, so what better than to do a billion-dollar plus arms deal with Taiwan, followed by a US missile destroyer “drive by” of one of China’s new fortified atolls. While RT picked a good title theme of the honeymoon being over, lots of married couples can tell you that does not mean the relationship is on the rocks.
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– First aired … July 2nd, 2017 –
China has sent military vessels and warplanes to “warn off” USS Stethem, a guided-missile destroyer, that sailed near a disputed island in the South China Sea, according to Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lu Kang.
The US Navy did not officially confirm the operation. The US Pacific Fleet spokesman, Lt. Cmdr. Matt Knight, told Fox News that the fleet conducts “routine and regular FONOPs, as we have done in the past and will continue to do in the future,” without specifically mentioning the Sunday incident.
However, an unidentified US Defense Department official earlier told Reuters that the US Navy destroyer USS Stethem came within 12 nautical miles of Triton Island, which is a part of the Paracel Islands located in the South China Sea between China and Vietnam.
The Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington-based think tank, said in its recent report that “Beijing has undertaken substantial upgrades of its military infrastructure in the Paracels” and particularly started building new facilities on Triton Island.
It was the second such operation conducted by the US during Donald Trump’s presidency. On May 24, the US Navy guided-missile destroyer, the USS Dewey, came within 12 miles of the Mischief Reef in the Spratly Islands – another disputed archipelago that lies in the southern part of the South China Sea.
The Paracel Islands are contested by China, Taiwan and Vietnam while the Spratlys are also additionally claimed by the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei. China claims sovereignty over a large part of the South China Sea, a region crucial for China’s maritime trade.
Paracel IslandsChina has already built runways, aircraft hangars, radar sites and hardened surface-to-air missile shelters on its artificially-created islands in the region, according to photos analyzed by the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).
Beijing’s actions have sparked concerns in Washington and the US Navy, which is fiercely opposed to this Chinese initiative, has deployed additional warships in the disputed zone, conducted maneuvers near China’s artificial islands, and flown over them, claiming it has been done in the interest of the “freedom of navigation.”
In response, China called Washington’s involvement in the dispute the “greatest” threat to the region.
In early June, China and the US both held exercises involving air and navy forces, in another episode of confrontation over the disputed South China Sea. The US sent two B-1B Lancer supersonic bombers to fly a 10-hour mission from Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, which was conducted in conjunction with the US Navy’s Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer the USS Sterett.
A day earlier, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) conducted its own air and navy exercise off Hong Kong. The patrol mission involved three helicopters and two Type 056 corvettes, the Qinzhou and the Huizhou, the Defense Ministry reported.
Jim Dean, managing editor at Veterans today, told RT he believes Washington is getting embroiled in a territorial dispute it has no part in as part of a PR game against China.
The incident might be also a deliberate move intended to provoke China into deploying more forces in the South China Sea, in order to justify a US response, according to Dean.