The United States and China are inching towards a battle over the South China Sea. Whether it is going to be a full-blown war or simply a skirmish over display of military intimidation, it would only be a matter of months before the two nations engage in confrontation.
Defense Secretary Ash Carter announced that the Pentagon has agreed with Singapore on a first deployment of the U.S. P8 Poseidon spy plane to counter China’s territorial claims over the South China Sea. The deployment was made weeks after China flew eight bombers supported by three surveillance and electronic intelligence aircraft over the disputed region.
Carter and Singapore Defense Minister Ng Eng met on Dec. 7 to sign an enhanced defense cooperation agreement that shall constitute a new framework for an expanded defense relationship between the U.S. and Singapore. The two defense leaders welcome the initial deployment of the Poseidon spy aircraft in Singapore from Dec. 7 to 14. A joint statement from them explained that the deployment shall promote greater interoperability with regional military by participating in bilateral and multilateral exercises.
China, on the other hand, flew eight Xian H-6k bombers in two groups of four aircraft in South China Sea, IHS Jane’s 360 reported. A spokesman from Chinese army said they bombers were participating in an exercise aimed at affirming Chain’s East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone.
The exercise irked Japan as the group of eight bombers separated west of Okinawa. The bombers were supported by a KJ-200 airborne early warning and control aircraft Jane’s 360 reported. The second group then flew passed Ryukyu Island Chain, over the Miyako Strait near Miyakojima Island while being protected by a Tupolev Tu-154MD and a Shaanxi Aircraft Corporation Y-8CB. The bombers reportedly flew 1,000 km into the Second Island Chain.
Tensions are high in the South China Sea. China kept warning U.S. against its military intervention in the region despite having no territorial claims. Last week, a political analyst said the U.S. is risking a nuclear war against China. The government seemed to be undermining that China had risen to be a nuclear power. Moreover, the United Kingdom recently expressed its willingness to be China’s eye at a court hearing held at The Hague involving Philippines’ case against China.