In the South China Sea zone, the commander of the U.S. Seventh Fleet reported on Tuesday that he has noticed an uptick in “unsafe” aerial intercepts by Chinese military aircraft.
Supply chains and the free flow of shipping were highlighted by Karl Thomas, who also said that the Navy’s “primary and foremost” objective is to maintain open sea lanes.
According to Thomas, the vast majority of U.S. and Chinese naval and aerial engagements are professional and safe, notwithstanding an uptick in dangerous aerial interactions.
In Singapore, The U.S. Seventh Fleet commander reported on Tuesday that the Chinese military has increased the number of “unsafe” aerial intercepts in the South China Sea region.
In the South China Sea as recently as May, a Chinese fighter jet is believed to have intercepted a Royal Australian Air Force P-8 maritime surveillance plane in a way that Australia’s defence officials deemed “hazardous” to the crew and aircraft. According to the department, the Chinese aircraft launched chaff, which the Australian plane’s engine vacuumed up.
“This reported rise in air pollution is undoubtedly alarming… Flying in the air is not a particularly forgiving environment if something goes wrong, according to Karl Thomas.
A request for response from CNBC was not immediately answered by the Chinese embassy in Singapore.
The U.S. Navy’s “primary and foremost” goal, according to Thomas, is to keep maritime lanes open, who made this statement during a press conference in Singapore.
The lifeblood of our economies is the sea routes. It is crucial to have free sea lanes and functional shipping in order to maintain the economy, the vice admiral stated.
The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development estimates that in 2021, almost 80% of all global trade volume was transported by sea.
Some of the busiest commercial shipping lanes in the world may be found in the South China Sea. Although other nations, notably the United States, do not recognise China’s claim of sovereignty over practically the whole body of water, it hasn’t been upheld in a tribunal of international arbitration.
Risky intercepts continue to be few.
Thomas made special note of the rarity of dangerous aircraft intercepts.
“It doesn’t happen very often, as far as we can tell. It’s not like stuff is happening every day. It’s not something you do often,” he remarked. “Then you begin to wonder: Is it because the pilot is an amateur? Or is there something more general than that?
The commander defended actions taken by the United States and other nations under the guise of “freedom of navigation” as being in conformity with the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and a system of regulations.
He insisted that it was necessary to “contest” China’s claims in the South China Sea.
“The issue is that if you don’t fight it, it will eventually become the standard… Just accept it, people. People can then declare that the entire South China Sea is their territorial sea, all of a sudden.