HomeAttacks on U.S.Chinese Military Aircraft Playing Risky Games with U.S. in South China Sea

Chinese Military Aircraft Playing Risky Games with U.S. in South China Sea

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The United States has accused China of engaging in “coercive and risky” behavior in the skies over the Pacific, particularly in the East and South China Seas. This worrying trend, which has escalated significantly over the past two years, has raised concerns about China’s increasingly belligerent actions and the potential dangers they pose. Ely Ratner, the assistant secretary of defense for Indo-Pacific Security Affairs, stated that since the fall of 2021, there have been more than 180 such incidents, far surpassing the levels seen in the previous decade.

To highlight this concerning pattern, the Pentagon has released previously undisclosed photos and videos capturing Chinese fighter jets aggressively intercepting US aircraft operating in international airspace. These visuals, dating back to January 2022, reveal Chinese fighter jets dangerously closing in on US military aircraft in a clear attempt to intimidate. Some of these confrontations brought Chinese jets within a mere 20 feet of their American counterparts.

The Pentagon has labeled these actions as part of a “centralized and concerted campaign” by China, aimed at coercing a change in lawful US operational activities. The gravity of the situation is exemplified in an August 10 incident where a Chinese fighter jet came dangerously close to a US jet, compelling the latter to execute “defense procedures” to avert a collision, including a daring barrel roll maneuver.

These risky encounters extend beyond mere intimidation. Chinese fighter jets have been seen releasing objects and projectiles, including flares, further escalating tensions in the region. Adm. John Aquilino, the commander of US Indo-Pacific Command, emphasized that while intercepts are routine worldwide, the vast majority are conducted safely, and there is no reason for encounters with China to be any different.

The situation is particularly concerning due to the absence of effective military-to-military dialogue between the United States and China. Despite multiple requests, including attempts spanning more than two years, China has not accepted any meetings or discussions with US counterparts. This lack of communication exacerbates the risk of unintended escalation and misunderstandings.

The release of these photos and videos coincides with the impending publication of the Pentagon’s 2023 “Report on Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China,” a crucial assessment that sheds light on China’s rapidly expanding and modernizing military capabilities, including its nuclear program.

These developments take place against the backdrop of deteriorating US-China relations, described as the worst in four decades. With high-level talks on the horizon, there’s a glimmer of hope for diplomatic resolution, but the military realm remains fraught with danger. China’s decision to sever military communication channels after a visit by Nancy Pelosi to Taiwan only exacerbates this precarious situation.

China understands that U.S. fighter pilots are professional and disciplined, and will not breach their orders to not engage. China believes the rest of the world will see this as weakness on the part of America. But most will see it as immature and an irresponsible.

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