The daring military manoeuvre is supposed to be a response to the continuing “freedom of navigation” missions of the US Navy in the disputed waters of the South China Sea largely controlled by Beijing.
China should respond to the continuing provocations from the US military in the South China Sea and send its own warships to the waters near US military bases in the Asia-Pacific and to the US allies’ coastlines, The Global Times publication (which is owned by the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party) has suggested in its editorial.
According to the state-funded newspaper, Beijing should “take action” and create capabilities to carry out reconnaissance operations in the waters, which are deemed territorial by the US and its allies under international laws.
“Only by making the US have a taste of its own medicine can we touch the nerves of the US and its allies, and reshape the western world’s understanding of US bullying in the South China Sea[…] The US will definitely see the PLA show up at its doorstep in the not-too-distant future,” The Global Times’ editorial read.
The editorial cited a recent incident involving US Guided-missile destroyer USS Benfold, which sailed just 12 nautical miles of Meiji Reef – one of the artificial islands that Beijing erected in the disputed waters of the South China Sea and which is home to some of the Chinese military’s equipment. Beijing insists that this equipment fulfils a purely defensive role, but Washington claims that China is restricting access to the South China Sea by its actions, and thus justifies sending American warships on the so-called “freedom of navigation” operations in the region.
Chinese military scrambled jets and sent Navy’s vessels to expel USS Benfold from the waters that Beijing considers its territory. These claims are contested by four other countries. The Global Times admitted that the two countries disagree on the territorial status of the waters in question, but stressed that it in no way makes the actions of the American Navy in the South China Sea legal.
“What the US has done is a naked provocation, and this is obvious to all. There are many Chinese people and facilities on Meiji Reef, and the US warship that sailed so close to it apparently posed a threat. The Chinese side cannot remain indifferent, but must take countermeasures. This is common sense,” the editorial said.
The newspaper stressed that continuing provocation from the US will sooner or later result in an “incident” between the two states and accused Washington of bringing more chaos than order to the South China Sea region. The US claims to be defending the interests of the regional powers, but at the same time openly designates Beijing as one of its main rivals in the military and foreign policy documents.
The two powers’ confrontation escalated under the Trump administration with the latter launching a trade war and starting a global crackdown campaign against Chinese tech giants, such as Huawei. The policy continued practically without any major change under Trump’s successor – Democrat President Joe Biden.