South China Sea is now a battleground for the United States and China. As both countries try to deter one another, the question now is up to what extent will the two countries continue to intimidate each other? Will it come to war?
Gen. Robert Neller, the commandant of the Marine Corps, took a slight swipe at China over the South China Sea dispute. According to the Marine Corps’ top officer, Beijing is somewhat upsetting the stability in the area especially following Pentagon’s report on China’s island-building sprees and its territorial ambition.
According to the officer, “certain nations” are pushing their interests in the disputed region through territorial tactics without drawing conflict.
“Certain nations kind of take advantage or do things that are short of conflict,” Defense News quoted Neller during a panel discussion Monday at the Navy League’s Sea-Air-Space exposition.
“They are very subtle and very calculated, but they don’t support the stability of the region,” the official added. According to Neller, the US would continue cooperation with Asia-Pacific nations. It will also continue to uphold international law as tensions rise due to China’s activities.
“We are a nation of laws, we go out and do what we do to support international law,” Neller continued. “What we cannot do is stop talking, even if we disagree. There may be actors who would potentially do some things that we don’t agree with and we need to maintain communication with them. And tell them that their actions are potentially disruptive to the stability of the world.”
China does not seem unfazed by the West’s declarations of continued operations as Chinese fighters recently buzzed a Navy patrol plane. In a report from Navy Times, Chinese warplanes performed a dangerous maneuver that intercepted a U.S. Navy patrol plane flying a routine mission over the South China Sea.
“Initial reports characterized the incident as unsafe,” Pentagon said in a statement. The incident comes after a series of tensed encounters between the two countries. Air Force Gen. Herbert “Hawk” Carlisle noted that such interception from the Chinese appears to be aimed towards intimidating US warplanes further away from the shores.
“If they continue to become more and more aggressive, the potential (exists) for a miscalculation or a safety incident,” Carlisle said. “We’ve worked hard to prevent another P-3 and Hainan island situation. We’ve seen some of their aggressive maneuvers against our aircraft that are operating in international airspace. That’s dangerous. And there’s the potential miscalculation or some kind of safety incident that could potentially spiral into a very bad situation.”