• Thu
  • Oct 23, 2014
  • Updated: 10:52pm

Mid-air 'near miss' highlights strategic divide between US and China in Asia

A close encounter between US and Chinese military aircraft highlights the divide between the two countries' ambitions in the region

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 26 August, 2014, 4:27am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 26 August, 2014, 10:53am

The encounter between a People's Liberation Army fighter jet and a US Navy surveillance aircraft off China's southern coast last week underlined mutual suspicion between China and the United States about strategic objectives in Asia, analysts said.

Washington and Beijing gave contrasting accounts over the weekend of the encounter on Wednesday between a US Navy P-8 surveillance plane and a Chinese J-11 jet over the South China Sea near Hainan . The Pentagon said the Chinese jet made several close passes by the Navy P-8 Poseidon plane, coming within nine metres of it at one point. China's defence ministry rejected that depiction as "totally untenable", saying its pilot was professional and kept a safe distance.

A Chinese navy officer said the US plane was probably tracking Chinese nuclear submarines, which were believed to be taking part in a military drill.

Beijing has complained that frequent US military surveillance of China's coast is a major barrier to a better bilateral military relationship. But the US insists it has the right under international law to carry out the missions.

The tension between the two countries persists despite President Xi Jinping and US President Barack Obama agreeing at a summit last year to forge a new kind of relationship between the two countries.

Benjamin Herscovitch, a researcher with the Centre for Independent Studies in Australia, said mutual suspicion about strategic objectives in Asia would continue to undermine efforts to forge a "new model of great power relations" between China and the US.

Deakin University international relations professor Chengxin Pan said both countries needed to establish ground rules to ward off danger.

"Averting danger requires both sides to accommodate the other side's legitimate security concerns and work towards establishing mutually agreed codes of conduct through engagement," Pan said.

Pan warned that relations between the US and China soured in 2001 when a PLA Navy J-8 fighter jet and a US Navy EP-3 spy plane collided in mid-air over the South China Sea near Hainan.

The latest encounter comes as Beijing builds up its military clout to assert its territorial claims in the region, while Washington, under Obama's pivot-to-Asia strategy, is also increasing its military presence. Herscovitch said such incidents would become more frequent and the relationship between China and the US would remain fraught despite the efforts to create friendly ties between the two militaries.

"The Sino-US military relationship is dependent on the Sino-US strategic relationship, and the latter is increasingly bumpy because of a series of ongoing irritants," he said. The Chinese and US militaries "will not be able to defuse the deep-seated Sino-US tension that is at root diplomatic and political rather than military".


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True, this spying plane incident highlights the deteriorating relationship between the two largest powers. Much proly it's caused by Chinese firm support on Russian position, a deadly combination of forces that's threatening the very status of Petrodollar and global reserve currency of USD, the main pillar of the present Anglo-American Empire.
And unlike Japan at its peak then down steadily after signing the 1985 Plaza Accord, China learns the lessons and won't take the orders from the Anglo-American Alliance, and China expects to be accepted on its own terms, "not as an honorary member of the West" or as the junior partner as did by Japan.
Peace will prevails if the present Empire will recede peacefully instead of chasing for the ghost shadow of the Full Spectrum Dominance and act recklessly as a uni-polar force, becoming the sole, ugly and detested bullying party!
"Mid-air 'near miss' highlights strategic divide between US and China in Asia: Close encounter between US and Chinese aircraft highlights divide between two countries in the region." "In Asia" and "In the region"? Does Cary Huang imagine that all of this is about nothing more than the Far East? And if so, how is it that her article omits reference to Japan? Is not Japan also "in the region"? But whether or not Cary Huang chooses to grapple with the relevant reality of Japan, the perennial great game of the world powers is by definition not merely regional but also global. What transpires in Iran, matters very much to both PRC and USA. And what transpires in Iran has also been directly and indirectly shaped by both PRC and USA. For example, since Mao's time, PRC has -- overtly or covertly -- generally been a nuclear proliferator, including with regard to aiding the nuclear-weapons and missile programs of Pakistan, North Korea, Iran and some other States. In this particular regard, I merely observe and do not condemn. Each great power (in fact every country) makes its own calculation about its own self-interest. From the beginning, PRC proliferation was part of an effective strategy to weaken USA, exactly because USA was/is the strongest player. There is no sense in which either PRC or USA can opt out of the very keen global rivalries implicit in the world system of States. There, the challenge is careful and wise management, for which we earnestly pray for all our sakes.
It's not a 'near miss' when the activity is intentional. Its a provocation - even if its a provocation in response to another provocation. Using the phrase 'near miss' totally misrepresents the seriousness of the situation and rather than highlight the 'strategic divide,' highlights the deteriorating relationship.
Tim Zone
The US is in China 's backyard.
just imagine what the US response would be if there's a Chines spy plane hovering around somewhere near Los Angles or Hawaii. Or even in Latin America.


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