03 October 2018
A close call between a U.S. and a Chinese destroyer in the disputed South China Sea added to tensions between two countries already embroiled in an escalating trade war.
The U.S. accused China’s navy of “unsafe and unprofessional” conduct near an occupied reef in the South China Sea after a Chinese destroyer maneuvered near the bow of the USS Decatur, an Aegis-class destroyer based in San Diego.
While close encounters between U.S. and Chinese forces are hardly unprecedented, particularly in the South China Sea, analysts said these incidents could increase as the broader relationship between Washington and Beijing comes under strain.
The world’s two biggest economies are locked in a trade war, and years of Chinese investment in its military — the country unveiled its first domestically built aircraft carrier last year — mean it can deploy with greater confidence against the U.S. and other countries.
… The incident would have contravened the Code for Unplanned Encounters at Sea that was agreed to by China, the U.S. and other countries in 2014, said Collin Koh Swee Lean, research fellow at Singapore’s S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies. The code aims to curb the chances of accidents and reducing the risk of escalation if one occurs.
“The reported 45 yards separation gives extremely little margin for safety,” Koh said. “It seems to me that this was deliberate and could have been sanctioned by higher levels as part of the retaliatory moves by China in recent times.”
IDSS / Online
Last updated on 03/10/2018