The USA-China “New Cold War” is heating up at sea, raising the risk of an armed conflict that seemed highly unlikely just months ago amid unprecedented global health and economic crises.
During its latest drills in the South China Sea on August 18, the US Navy’s USS Mustin destroyer upped the ante by for the first time reportedly piercing through the western side of the median line dividing mainland China and Taiwan.
China has lashed back by describing the move as “extremely dangerous”, and vowing to defend its interests and claims in the area, including the eventual integration of Taiwan with the mainland.
Although the move was consistent with international law since it was well beyond China’s 12 nautical miles territorial sea, it represented a direct challenge to Beijing’s opposition to any foreign military presence in its 200 nautical miles Exclusive Economic Zone.
It also coincided with reports of a US surveillance aircraft, US Navy Lockheed EP-3E ARIES II, making a rare visit to Taiwan following a major bilateral defense deal and an unprecedented visit by an American cabinet official to the self-governed island.
Referring to America’s expanding naval presence in its adjacent waters and burgeoning defense ties with Taiwan, which Beijing Beijing considers a renegade province, China has recently described its superpower rival’s actions as a real threat to peace.
The US military has conducted at least 10 naval deployments across the Taiwan Straits so far this year, underscoring Washington’s commitment to preventing any Chinese unilateral action against Taipei.
The US destroyer passed through China’s waters following military exercises with Japanese Maritime Self Defense Forces.
Last month, Senior Colonel Ren Guoqiang, another top Chinese military official, warned the USA against attempts to contain China with Taiwan [and] interfere in China’s internal affairs and undermine peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait.
They are completely wrong and extremely dangerous,” said the Chinese official, warning, “The US should realize that China must and will be reunified, and the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation must and will eventually be achieved.
The Trump Administration has taken various actions for competing strategically with China in the South China Sea and East China Sea.
Asia Times / ABC Flash Point News 2020.