Sept 28, 2018
Another incident involving US military operations over disputed waters near China has resulted in Beijing issuing a scathing condemnation of Washington amidst already soaring trade war tensions.
China’s defense ministry on Tuesday denounced recent US-B52 bomber flyovers of the South China Sea and East China Sea, calling the military maneuvers “provocative”. Though Pentagon officials are downplaying this and prior such incidents, it demonstrates just how fast the currently escalating trade war could easily translate into a potential military “mishap” between the two countries.
“Regarding the provocative actions of US military aircraft in the South China Sea, we are always resolutely opposed to them, and will continue to take necessary measures in order to strongly handle (this issue),” Chinese defense ministry spokesman Ren Guoqiang said before reporters, according to the AFP.
A Pentagon spokesman quickly shot back, rejecting Chinese territorial claims which interpret its expanding man-made island chains as a natural extension of its sovereign space. The flights were part of “regularly scheduled operations,” said Pentagon spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Dave Eastburn.
The Pentagon further confirmed that its heavy bombers are operating in the area as part of combined exercises with Japan over the East and South China seas, and that flights were being conducted over recognized international airspace. US officials have over the past year repeatedly confirmed that the Air Force and Navy will “continue to fly, sail and operate wherever international law allows at times and places of our choosing.”
Under international law, a country’s airspace is considered to be 12 nautical miles distant from the coastline of the nation, but China has used its man-made islands — on which it’s frequently stationed military assets — to lay claim…