The US Navy’s Pacific Fleet has drawn up a classified proposal to carry out a major show of force, as a warning to China
The fleet is set to carry out a “highly focused and concentrated set of exercises involving US warships, combat aircraft and troops” for a week during November.
The aim is to demonstrate that the US is prepared to deter and counter military actions by China, according to US defense officials.
The proposal means that US ships and aircraft will be operating close to Chinese forces and is expected to trigger a strong reaction from Beijing.
Press TV reports: The plan specifically suggests sending ships and aircraft near China’s territorial waters in the South China Sea and Taiwan Strait, as part of Washington insists are “freedom of navigation operations” to protect movement in the sea.
This means that the US military would get close to Chinese military forces operating both in the sea, running the chance of close encounters.
While the American officials emphasized that Washington had no plans to engage the Chinese forces, it is unlikely that China would ignore such operations.
This became evident last week, when the USS Decatur guided-missile destroyer attempted to sail close to a Chinese-claimed island in the sea only to be countered by the Chinese destroyer, the Lanzhou.
Lanzhou approached USS Decatur in such a manner that the American warship was forced to change direction and leave the area.
The close encounter was followed by a storm of criticism and warnings from the two sides, further straining tense US-China ties amid an ongoing trade war that is growing to include other issues.
Friction between the world’s two biggest economies hit a new high in late September, when Trump accused China of seeking to interfere in the upcoming US congressional elections in early November.
Military ties between the two sides took a major hit as a result of the fallout after Beijing rejected a US warship’s request to visit Hong Kong.