UNITED STATES: The White House stated on Monday that recent dangerous encounters between American and Chinese forces in the Taiwan Strait and South China Sea demonstrate a rising aggressiveness by Beijing’s military that increases the possibility of an error in which “somebody gets hurt.”
Washington’s stern warning came after the U.S. Navy released a video of what it called an “unsafe interaction” in the Taiwan Strait on Sunday, in which a Chinese warship crossed in front of a U.S. destroyer in the susceptible waterway.
The incident comes at a time when both nations are blaming each other for not holding military negotiations, and there are already differences between the adversaries over issues like trade, Taiwan, and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. This could increase the likelihood of further conflicts.
It also comes after a May 26 incident in which a Chinese fighter jet engaged in what the US called an “unnecessarily aggressive” manoeuvre close to an American military aircraft over the South China Sea in international airspace.
Amid deteriorating relations between Washington and Beijing, White House spokesman John Kirby told reporters: “Sadly, this is just part of, again, a growing aggressiveness by the PRC (People’s Republic of China), and we’re prepared to address it.”
“It won’t be long before somebody gets hurt. It wouldn’t take much for an error in judgement or a mistake to get made,” Kirby said.
During a press conference in Beijing, Wang Wenbin, a spokesperson for the Chinese foreign ministry, stated that “the measures taken by the Chinese military are completely reasonable, legitimate, professional, and safe.”
Kirby stated that the US would keep fighting for the freedom of navigation in the sea and air.
“I sure would like to hear Beijing justify what they’re doing. Air and maritime intercepts happen all the time. Heck, we do it. The difference is … when we feel like we need to do it, it’s done professionally,” Kirby said.
Kirby stated that if China wanted to convey the message that the US was not welcome in the region or that it wanted American aircraft and ships to stop flying and sailing in support of international law, that wouldn’t succeed. “It’s not going to happen,” said Kirby.
Despite the heightened tensions, Vedant Patel, a spokesman for the U.S. State Department, stated that the administration of President Joe Biden is “looking to continue to have a predictable relationship with the PRC.”
“President Biden has been clear that we don’t seek any kind of new Cold War, and our competition must not spill over into conflict,” Patel said.
The US military stated that the American destroyer Chung-Hoon and Canadian frigate Montreal were reportedly making a “routine” transit of the strait on Saturday when the Chinese ship allegedly cut in front of the American ship and drew close to it, coming within 150 yards (137 metres).
The Chinese ship is visible in the U.S. Navy’s video, sailing across the Chung-Hoon’s path in calm waters. The Chung-Hoon doesn’t change course.
“The U.S. first caused trouble and provocation, and China dealt with it in accordance with the law and regulations afterwards,” Wang said at a press conference on Monday.
Some independent observers stated that the most recent occurrence indicates a more aggressive shift in China’s strategy against what it perceives as an invasion by American and allied forces. However, American officials have been describing Beijing’s military as adopting a more combative stance for at least the past year.
Derek Grossman, a senior defence expert at the RAND Corporation, a U.S. think tank, said that “China is only increasing the chances for miscalculation—namely, ships or aircraft accidentally colliding—that could then spiral into armed conflict.”
After colliding with a Chinese fighter jet, whose pilot perished, a U.S. spy plane had to make an emergency landing on the Chinese island of Hainan in 2001.