News / Asia

    Analysts: More US-China Military Cooperation Needed

    Robert L. Thomas Jr. (C),  Commander of the U.S. Seventh Fleet talks with Chinese general Yuan Yubo (L) at a port in Qingdao, during the U.S. Seventh Fleet Flagship USS Blue Ridge  visit to Shandong province, China, Aug. 5, 2014.
    Robert L. Thomas Jr. (C), Commander of the U.S. Seventh Fleet talks with Chinese general Yuan Yubo (L) at a port in Qingdao, during the U.S. Seventh Fleet Flagship USS Blue Ridge visit to Shandong province, China, Aug. 5, 2014.

    A close encounter last week between a U.S. surveillance plane and a Chinese fighter jet shows the need for greater military cooperation and agreed upon rules of engagement between the two countries, analysts say.

    The Pentagon said the U.S. Navy’s P-8A Poseidon was in international airspace, about 200 kilometers east of China's southern island of Hainan, when it was confronted by the Chinese jet last Tuesday.

    The Shenyang J-11B fighter crossed beneath the U.S. plane three times and exposed its belly in an apparent attempt to show off its weapons load, according to Pentagon spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby. At one point, he said, the jet's wings came within nine meters of those of the U.S. plane.

    Kirby called the Chinese pilot’s actions "aggressive" and "unprofessional" and said the Pentagon expressed to Beijing its “strong objection” with regards to the maneuver.

    The Chinese Defense Ministry called the criticism “totally groundless.” In a statement, it insisted the pilot acted professionally and kept a safe distance. The statement said any blame for the incident lies with the American plane and demanded the U.S. stop conducting reconnaissance missions near China.

    The incident was reminiscent of 2001, when a similar maneuver by a Chinese pilot resulted in a mid-air collision between a Chinese J-8 fighter jet and a U.S. Navy EP-3 spy plane. That crash killed the Chinese pilot and forced the U.S. plane to make an emergency landing on Hainan, prompting a major diplomatic crisis.

    Risk of more mid-air encouters

    Many defense analysts expect to see more dangerous mid-air encounters as China’s military grows stronger and becomes more uncomfortable with a U.S. military presence so close to its territory.

    "China feels it has the rights of a certain strategic space around its borders. It doesn't fly planes close to the borders of the United States and so it feels, 'Well, why is it that we have American forces so close to us?'” said Kerry Brown, a former British diplomat in Beijing who now heads the University of Sydney's China Studies Center.

    Brown said close encounters last like week’s are “incredibly dangerous,” not only for the pilots and other forces directly involved, but because the incidents could spiral out of control diplomatically. “That’s exactly the kind of scenario where you can see things totally escalating,” he said.

    U.S. and Chinese officials have both made public calls for more military cooperation and dialogue in order to lessen tensions and increase understanding, and most say progress is being made on this front.

    The most recent talks occurred this week, when the Pentagon said U.S. and Chinese officials met in Washington as part of long-planned discussions on air and sea behavior. U.S. officials told VOA that last week’s close call was discussed in the talks.

    But Brown said that so far, such talks have not done enough.

    “You have attempts at that kind of dialogue, but it’s not that structured. And that really needs to be in place so that each side understands where the red lines are. The problem at the moment is that there isn't a great deal of understanding on the Chinese side of where the American red lines are. And American defense officials might think that everyone's very, very clear on the Chinese side, but it's clear that there’s a communication issue,” he said.

    Need to establish mutually accepted rules

    Establishing mutually and internationally accepted rules of behavior is another way to reduce the chances of a significant escalation, said Australian National University Asia defense specialist John Blaxland.

    "There needs to be established protocols. We've seen calls for this in the South China Sea. ASEAN (The Association of Southeast Asian Nations) has been calling for a code of conduct arrangements for vessels at sea. I think the same goes for aircraft,” he said.

    But there are questions about whether China is willing to respect international laws and customs when they conflict with its interests and historical claims. Blaxland suggests China’s provocative behavior may indicate that it wants to “rewrite the rules” that have been commonly agreed to internationally.

    “Their approach has been really pretty aggressive and unfriendly toward a number of countries. It has not sought to engage on a consensus basis. It's trying to pick off the Philippines, it's tried to pick off Vietnam, and now it's trying to pick off individual aircraft, and we've seen that against U.S. vessels as well. This is a really combative approach, it's not an approach that attempts to find consensus through mutually recognized procedures," he said.

    U.S. military officials and policymakers must also decide whether it is worth it to continue asserting American naval and air power so close to China’s shores, when it is clear that this will irritate Beijing and could lead to confrontation.

    “Perhaps some concession can be made here (by the U.S.),” said Blaxland. “The other side here is that if you make that concession, will it lead to even greater concessions?”

    You May Like

    In Britain, The Sun Still Doesn’t Shine

    Invoking Spitfires and Merlin, Leave voters insist country can be great again, following surprising 'Brexit' vote last week

    Double Wave of Suicide Bombings Puts Lebanon, Refugees on Edge

    Following suicide bombings in Christian town of Al-Qaa, on Lebanon's northeast border with Syria, fears of further bombings have risen

    US Senators Warned on Zika After Failing to Pass Funding

    Zika threats and challenges, as well as issues of contraception and vaccines, spelled out as lawmakers point fingers

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Patrick from: Ca
    August 29, 2014 2:22 PM
    Let us hope cooler heads prevail, I dislike Chinese oppressive behaviors, but we have problems here too, to much gap between rich and poor, and a continual squeezing of the middle class, large corporations moving off shore because our taxes are too high, and medicine that is way too expensive. I hope we can hold onto our freedoms, as it seems like more government control is the trend. If we need population control let's start with those trying to push such agendas, so the rest of us can figure how to get along.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Slow Rebuilding Amid Boko Haram Destruction in Nigeria’s Northeasti
    X
    June 29, 2016 6:15 PM
    Military operations have chased Boko Haram out of towns and cities in Nigeria’s northeast since early last year. But it is only recently that people have begun returning to their homes in Adamawa state, near the border with Cameroon, to try to rebuild their lives. For VOA, Chris Stein traveled to the area and has this report.
    Video

    Video Slow Rebuilding Amid Boko Haram Destruction in Nigeria’s Northeast

    Military operations have chased Boko Haram out of towns and cities in Nigeria’s northeast since early last year. But it is only recently that people have begun returning to their homes in Adamawa state, near the border with Cameroon, to try to rebuild their lives. For VOA, Chris Stein traveled to the area and has this report.
    Video

    Video Clinton Leads Trump, But Many Voters Don't Like Either

    In the U.S. presidential race, most recent polls show Democrat Hillary Clinton with a steady lead over Republican Donald Trump as both presumptive party nominees prepare for their party conventions next month. Trump’s disapproval ratings have risen in some recent surveys, but Clinton also suffers from high negative ratings, suggesting both candidates have a lot of work to do to improve their images before the November election. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video New US Ambassador to Somalia Faces Heavy Challenges

    The new U.S. envoy to Somalia, who was sworn into office Monday, will be the first American ambassador to that nation in 25 years. He will take up his post as Somalia faces a number of crucial issues, including insecurity, an upcoming election, and the potential closure of the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya. VOA’s Jill Craig asked Somalis living in Kenya’s capital city Nairobi how they feel about the U.S. finally installing a new ambassador.
    Video

    Video At National Zoo, Captivating Animal Sculptures Illustrate Tragedy of Ocean Pollution

    The National Zoo in Washington, D.C., is home to about 1,800 animals, representing 300 species. But throughout the summer, visitors can also see other kinds of creatures there. They are larger-than-life animal sculptures that speak volumes about a global issue — the massive plastic pollution in our oceans. VOA's June Soh takes us to the zoo's special exhibit, called Washed Ashore: Art to Save the Sea.
    Video

    Video Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roar

    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.
    Video

    Video Melting Pot of Immigrants Working to Restore US Capitol Dome

    The American Iron Works company is one of the firms working to renovate the iconic U.S. Capitol Dome. The company employs immigrants of many different cultural and national backgrounds. VOA’s Arman Tarjimanyan has more.
    Video

    Video Testing Bamboo as Building Material

    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Orphanage in Iraqi City Houses Kids Who Lost their Parents to Attacks by IS

    An orphanage in Iraqi Kurdistan has become home to scores of Yazidi children who lost their parents after Islamic State militants took over Sinjar in Iraq’s Nineveh Province in 2014. Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. airstrikes have since recaptured Sinjar but the need for the care provided by the orphanage continues. VOA’s Kawa Omar filed this report narrated by Rob Raffaele.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora