08 July 2017
Last week the US Navy’s guided-missile destroyer, the USS Stethem, sailed to within 12 nautical miles of Triton Island in the China-controlled Paracel Islands, inviting Beijing’s condemnation of American “provocation”. Such incidents are by no means new. In December 2013, a confrontation between Chinese vessels accompanying the carrier Liaoning and the American cruiser Cowpens brought them perilously close to a collision in the South China Sea.
In December 2016, a Chinese naval ship seized an American undersea drone even as the USS Bowditch, a naval oceanographic vessel, was in the process of recovering it some 50 nautical miles off Subic Bay in the Philippines. The drone was returned, but incidents of the kind have become more frequent since then and raised the strategic temperature between the United States and China. In mid-May this year, Chinese Su30 aircraft intercepted an American WC-135 Constant Phoenix radiation detection aircraft over the East China Sea. A week later, two Chinese fighters intercepted a US P3-Orion surveillance aircraft over the South China Sea.
… Rajesh Basrur is Professor of International Relations in the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.
GPO / IDSS / Online
Last updated on 11/07/2017