- - Friday, May 20, 2016

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Chinese fighter jets again aggressively intercepted a U.S. Navy EP-3 surveillance plane operating in international waters off the coast of China. The incident comes on the heels of another U.S. Navy mission to sail within China’s self-identified exclusion zone around man-made islands in the South China Sea.

China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei Hong told reporters that the U.S. military’s reconnaissance missions “seriously endanger Chinese maritime security,” according to Reuters.

“We demand that the United States immediately cease this type of close reconnaissance activity to avoid having this sort of incident happening again.” Hong said the Pentagon’s accusations that the Chinese fighter jets acted unsafely was “untrue” and that the aircraft were “completely in keeping with safety and professional standards” and didn’t “engage in any dangerous action.”

American Secretary of State John Kerry said the U.S. was attempting to halt the militarization of the South China Sea region by China. China has installed anti-aircraft and anti-ship missiles on the islands and is operating military aircraft from airstrips recently constructed.

“We don’t hope to see any more close-up military reconnaissance or the dispatch of missile destroyers or strategic bombers to the South China Sea,” said Foreign Minister Wang.

Tension in the region has increased dramatically as U.S. allies as well as Vietnam and other Pacific nations are concerned about Chinese sabre-rattling and militarization. U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump has said American allies in the region need to do more to provide for their defense and suggested they possibly could acquire nuclear weapons.


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