US Navy’s provocative stunt in S.China Sea irresponsible, disruptive
Published: Feb 28, 2023 08:49 PM
Illustration: Chen Xia/GT

Illustration: Chen Xia/GT

In the past few days, the US media has made a lot of hype about this story: A US Navy P-8A reconnaissance jet with a CNN crew aboard that flew over to the South China Sea on Friday was warned and driven away by a Chinese fighter jet.

The CNN hyped that this is "stark evidence of the tensions brewing in the South China Sea, and between the US and China." However, the US Navy says these missions are "routine," implying that such regular provocative harassment by US forces in the South China Sea will continue. This incident is the latest example of how the US frequently undermines and threatens regional security in the South China Sea under the banner of "freedom of navigation" in recent years. It again proves that Washington is the biggest threat to peace and stability in the region.

Freedom of navigation is a pretext for the US to intervene in the South China Sea affairs. To satisfy its geopolitical interests, Washington has been stirring up trouble in the region and flaunting its power by frequently sending ships and aircraft there. It has been instigating tension in the South China Sea, making itself a disrupter of peace and stability in the region. Such a dangerous and irresponsible approach seriously deviates from the common will of countries around the South China Sea.

With the joint efforts of China and ASEAN members, the situation in the South China Sea has generally remained stable. 

The sinister intentions of the US, and its risk moves, are clear, as well as the serious disasters caused by the wars provoked by Washington in Iraq and Syria in recent years. As a result, regional countries have shown a high degree of vigilance. Many leaders of countries around the South China Sea have publicly stated that they will not take sides between China and the US, let alone follow the US in the South China Sea to conduct their so-called freedom of navigation operations.

China has always respected and supported freedom of navigation and overflight enjoyed by all countries in the South China Sea in accordance with international law. But this freedom in no way means that foreign warships and military aircraft can violate international law, disregard the legitimate rights of other countries and jeopardize the safety of aviation and navigation. US ships and aircraft have frequently conducted close-in reconnaissance and "freedom of navigation operations" in the South China Sea for years. These are extremely irresponsible moves that are highly likely to lead to miscalculations and marine and aviation accidents.

While continuing the Donald Trump administration's unscrupulous frenzy of containment and suppression against China, the Joe Biden administration proposed setting up "guardrails" on China-US relations to prevent competition from becoming conflict. But at the same time, it is constantly creating new problems, harming China's interests, and threatening global security.

What Washington means is clear: The US can provoke China, but the latter cannot counterattack or respond. Instead, Beijing should help build "guardrails" to protect Washington's safety. This is utterly overbearing.

The world can see very clearly that if the US does not stir up troubles, there is no need to set up any "guardrails" or for any "crisis management." Washington should strictly restrain such actions to avoid causing accidents. It needs to, instead, take practical actions to maintain the peace and stability of China-US relations and the region.

By carrying a reporter on a US military aircraft, the US is trying to launch a new round of public opinion warfare regarding the South China Sea. It is obviously trying to make an issue of it. This will only create a tense atmosphere in the region instead of receiving the response Washington wants from regional countries.

The US should recognize the reality and respect the common wish of countries in the South China Sea for peace, stability, and development. It should stop sowing discord, fanning the flames, engaging in all kinds of provocative military actions, and threatening the sovereignty and security of regional countries in any form and under any pretext. Instead of undermining regional rules and order, Washington needs to take actions genuinely beneficial to the region.

The author is a senior research fellow at the Naval Research Academy of the PLA. opinion@globaltimes.com.cn