The United States has launched a reckless military provocation against China by sending a naval vessel within the 12-nautical mile limit surrounding islands claimed by China in the South China Sea.
Early today [27/10], local time, the guided missile destroyer USS Lassen entered the exclusion zone around the Chinese-occupied and claimed Subi and Mischief reefs in the Spratly archipelago. China has reclaimed land from the sea and constructed facilities on the reefs. The USS Lassen was accompanied by a P-8A surveillance plane and a P-3 surveillance aircraft. According to US sources, China was not informed and no incident occurred.
The brazen and aggressive character of the operation is underscored by the fact that it has been undertaken in the total absence of military activity against the US by China. Rather, it assumes the form of a pre-emptive strike aimed at humiliating the Chinese regime and placing it in a situation where it either confronts the US navy or bows down to Washington’s repudiation of China’s decades-old territorial claims in the strategic South China Sea. Not coincidentally, the operation was announced just as a major meeting of the ruling Chinese Communist Party central committee was convening to consider economic policy over the next five years.
According to an unnamed US defense department official, who provided a briefing on the operation, the deployment of the USS Lassen is not a one-off, but the start of a series of provocations.
The US actions vastly raise the threat of a military clash with China and the danger of a war between nuclear-armed states that would draw in every country in the region and beyond. A senior Chinese naval officer declared earlier this month that any forces violating Chinese sovereignty would be met with a “head on blow.” On October 9, the Chinese foreign ministry warned that China would “never allow any country to violate China’s territorial waters and airspace in the Spratly Islands in the name of protecting freedom of navigation and overflight.”
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