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

Video Iran Nuclear Deal Becomes US Campaign Issue

Voters in three crucial battleground states - Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania - overwhelmingly oppose nuclear deal with Iran More

Al-Qaida's Syria Affiliate Reemerges

Jabhat al-Nusra has rebounded, increasingly casting itself as a critical player in battle for Syria’s future More

Lessons Learned From Katrina, 10 Years Later

FEMA chief Craig Fugate says key changes include better preparation, improved coordination among state, federal assistance agencies More

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.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs