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Chinese senior military official calls for attacks on US ships in South China Sea

USS Blue Ridge as it transits through the South China Sea. (Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jason Behnke/U.S. Navy)
December 11, 2018

A senior member of the Chinese military recently made remarks indicating that the Chinese navy should be carrying out aggressive and violent responses to the U.S. ships in the South China Sea.

Dai Xu, a colonel commander in the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Air Force, said on Saturday that using force against U.S. ships is justifiable in Chinese territory, Business Insider reported Monday.

“If the US warships break into Chinese waters again, I suggest that two warships should be sent: one to stop it, and another one to ram it … In our territorial waters, we won’t allow US warships to create disturbance,” Dai said.

Dai echoed the sentiments of other Chinese officials, saying that the presence of U.S. warships in the South China Sea is a “provocation,” not an assurance of free navigation as the U.S. maintains.

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Dai added that confrontation with the U.S. in the South China Sea could enable China to reclaim Taiwan, which it considers a wayward province.

“It would boost the speed of our unification of Taiwan,” he said, adding: “Let’s just be prepared and wait. Once a strategic opportunity emerges, we should be ready to take over Taiwan.”

The rhetoric is concerning considering the aggressive acts China has already taken against U.S. ships.

The USS Decatur was conducting a “freedom of navigation” operation near the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea at the end of September when a Chinese warship nearly collided with it.

The Chinese ship “approached within 45 yards” of the USS Decatur, and “conducted a series of increasingly aggressive maneuvers accompanied by warnings for the Decatur to depart the area,” according to U.S. Pacific Fleet spokesman Capt. Charles Brown.

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After the incident, China claimed the U.S. ship had encroached upon their territory, even though the USS Decatur was in international waters.

“China has indisputable sovereignty over the South China Sea islands and their adjacent waters,” said a Chinese Defense Ministry statement.

“The Chinese military will resolutely perform its defense duties and continue to take all necessary measures to safeguard our sovereignty and the regional peace and stability,” China’s Defense Ministry spokesman Wu Qian said.

The aggression from China has prompted the U.S. to further assess the Chines threat, and shift its defense priorities.

A Pentagon report in August concluded that China was training its bombers in preparation for strikes against the U.S.

“Over the last three years, the PLA (People’s Liberation Army) has rapidly expanded its overwater bomber operating areas, gaining experience in critical maritime regions and likely training for strikes against U.S. and allied targets,” the report said at the time.

U.S. operations near China continue to be carried out despite their aggression.

Just two weeks ago, the U.S. Navy sent the USS Chancellorsville near the Paracel Islands in the South China Sea for a freedom of navigation mission, in the first time a U.S. ship sailed near China since the near-collision incident in September, according to Stars & Stripes.

Two days earlier, the U.S. also sent the USS Stockdale and USNS Pecos through the Taiwan Strait, another disputed waterway.

With tensions high between the U.S. and China, further confrontation between U.S. and Chinese ships have the potential to become increasingly aggressive.