South China Sea tensions erupt as Beijing ‘expels’ US warships in row – WW3 fears explode

South China Sea: Military exercises ‘must continue’ says expert

The South China Sea faces claims from China, Malaysia, Taiwan, Vietnam and the Philippines. Diplomatic relations between the nations is already extremely strained as Beijing continues to assert its dominance in the region.

China has built several military bases on atolls in the region, sparking fears of a World War 3 outbreak.

Despite not have any claim to any part of the archipelago, the US has increased its military presence to counter against Beijing’s dominance.

But now, fears of a conflict has reached boiling point as Beijing “expelled” a US warship from the region.

The Chinese state-run publication, The Global Times, has reported the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) “demonstrated its control over the region” by expelling the “trespassing” US warship.

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Today, the US destroyer USS John S McCain entered waters near China’s Nansha Islands without authorisation of the Chinese government, the outlet said.

In a statement, Senior Colonel Tian Junli, a spokesperson for the PLA Southern Theatre Command, said they expelled the ship using navy and aerial forces.

The Global Times said: “The US action was a serious violation of China’s sovereignty and security, and it gravely disrupted peace and stability in the South China Sea, which China is resolutely against.”

They quoted Tian saying “command troops are on high alert at all times and will firmly carry out their duties and missions to safeguard national sovereignty and security as well as peace and stability in the region.”

This latest action comes after China deployed its first self-made aircraft carrier into the region.

And the publication claimed analysts said the US’ trespass shows their “mentality of confrontation and troublemaking”.

It added: “The US’ ‘freedom of navigation’ operations in the South China Sea have become routine since 2017 and by conducting a new one at this time, the Trump administration is using its last month to leave president-elect Joe Biden with more trouble in US-China relations.”

Last week, a Beijing think tank warned a conflict between the US and China could be weeks away.

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The South China Sea Probing Initiative (SCSPI) said in a statement: “We still believe that the risk of conflict is rising.

“Though less mentioned in media reports recently, there have always been several encounters of various kinds from two sides every single day.

“If the US and China couldn’t find a substantive crisis management measures, the risk of an accident or unexpected conflict would still be high.”

The SCSPI’s team urged the US to cease intervening in regional disputes to prevent potential provocations during encounters with Chinese forces.

It continued: “The US needs 1) to refrain from ‘taking sides’ on disputed issues and maintain necessary policy balance.

“2) to avoid extreme moves on the front line.

“However, under the backdrop of the great power competition, both mentioned above are hard to be seen.”

Earlier this month, the US Navy warned China is the number one threat to its maritime dominance.

Hu Bo, the Director of the Center for Maritime Strategy Research, warned a conflict between the two nations is “possible”.

He said: “Although the US has been trying to decouple from China in other areas, they are still closely connected.

“The chances of a large-scale conflict happening are small.

“But a medium or small-scale conflict is possible, such as two warships hitting each other or occasional crossfire since the two countries’ warships and aircraft encounter each other.”

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