Amid the soaring provocative action in the South China Sea, the US Department of State rebuked the recent stirs of Beijing against Australia’s military planes and called it one of the most significant threats to peace and stability in the region. Terming the Chinese action the most “aggressive” and “irresponsible”, assistant secretary of defence for Indo-Pacific security affairs, Ely Ratner, said Chinese aggression in the Indo-Pacific was an attempt to challenge the rules-based order. According to him, the Chinese want to control a more significant region in the South China sea, resulting in trouble for the US and the allied forces operating in the region.
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He recalled the recent Chinese aggression where a PLA J-16 fighter cut across the nose of an Australian P-8 that was conducting routine overflight activities in the South China Sea and released a round of chaff that was ingested into the P-8 engine. He stressed that aggressive and irresponsible behaviour represents one of the most significant threats to peace and stability in the region, including in the South China Sea. And added if the PLA continues this pattern of behaviour, it is only a matter of time before there is a major incident or accident in the region.
Beijing is systematically testing the limits of collective resolve, says US official
He further maintained China has also escalated tensions with its neighbours which are considered peaceful nations. Notably, he was pointing out China’s recent provocative action against Taiwan and Vietnam. Besides, he noted Beijing also sent more than a dozen military aircraft into Malaysian-administered airspace and the Philippines. According to Ratner, Beijing employs its military, maritime militia, and state-owned enterprises in a holistic way to intimidate and impose its preferences on regional states.
He underscored Beijing is systematically testing the limits of collective resolve and trying to advance a new status quo in the South China Sea “that flies in the face of our shared commitment to the respect for sovereignty, peaceful resolution of disputes, and adherence to international law”. In order to deal with the concerning situation, he said the US is doubling down efforts to build a common operating picture with partners that will allow better detection and counter illicit activities in territorial waters. It is worth mentioning the comment from the top US official came ahead of President Joe Biden and Xi Jinping’s meeting over Taiwan which is reportedly scheduled to be held this week.