Beijing/Washington: China has accused that the patrol of US warship near the Paracel Islands was meant to demonstrate superiority and thus an act of provocation. Also, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) warned that the US must not attempt to do so again. On Friday, the advanced US warship USS McCain had patrolled close to the Paracel Islands in the South China Sea. The US has begun adding pressure on China over the South China Sea issue. Therefore, the warships of the US and its allies are regularly patrolling the South China Sea. A Canadian warship had patrolled the region only a few days ago.
The PLA Spokesperson Colonel Zhang Nandong has warned the US stating that ‘The US warship entering into our maritime boundaries without explicit permission from China is an instance of a unilateral show of force based using its naval might. The US must stop such provocative activities immediately. US activities may cause accidents in the region. The US must thereby keep track of its military operations within the air as well as sea limits of the South China Sea’. The Chinese Spokesperson went on to say that the US operations violate Beijing’s sovereignty and interests, and will therefore receive an appropriate response to it.
In the past few months, China has ratcheted up activities in the South China Sea. China is consistently engaging in disruptive activities such as sinking ships of neighbouring nations, violating maritime boundaries and use of its naval might to threaten other countries. Also, China has amended shipping regulations for the South China Sea. Accordingly, the stretch of water from Hainan Province to Paracel Islands was reclassified and now recognised as a coastal region of China. The move is believed a new effort to demonstrate its ownership to the South China Sea. Previously, at the start of April, the Chinese Communists Party (CCP) had renamed 80 geographical features and entities in the South China Sea in an attempt to prove they were a part of China. At the same time, the fighter jets, bombers, fuel tankers, surveillance aircraft and early warning systems from the Southern, Northern and Eastern Command of the Chinese PLA, are participating in the frequent naval drills being held in the region.
As China continues with its aggressive manoeuvres, even the US has begun to step up its activities. The flights of US reconnaissance aircraft and fighter jets in the South China Sea were found to have increased. In the past five months, the US deployed its aircraft carrier and the carrier strike group at least four times in the South China Sea. Further, as per the regulations of the ‘Free and Open Indo-Pacific’ and the ‘Freedom of Navigation’, the US naval warships are frequently patrolling the South China Sea. The patrols of the USS McCain from the US Navy were a part of the strategy. Analysts believe the US is sending a clear military message out to China through its deployments by snubbing China’s constant threats and warnings.
Meanwhile, a former US military official has suggested the US provide advance F-35 fighter jets to Taiwan. Since the past few days, China is making an aggressive show of force near Taiwanese territory. Also, former Chinese officials, analysts and media are repeatedly threatening to attack Taiwan. On the sidelines of the recent events, former Pentagon official Stephen Bien has said, fighter jets such as the F-35, which is a 5th Generation Fighter and has stealth technology, would prove decisive in countering China. Besides, Bien has said that China has several advanced fighters and bombers, but Taiwan had a deficit of advanced planes that could retaliate to or attack Beijing. The Pentagon official suggested that the US could keep a standby force comprising of F-35s ready for Taiwan or even lease the jets to them. Currently, Taiwan has the fighter jets F-16, F-5 and Mirage 2000, that have been supplied by the US in the past.
As the US tries to help Taiwan step up its preparedness for war, China was found to have violated the Taiwanese airspace once again on Friday. On Saturday, Taiwan will be celebrating its National Day and China is thus believed to be threatening it with incursions. The Taiwanese Defence Ministry has informed that China had sent its Y-8 and Y-9 anti-submarine aircraft into their territory.