The Pentagon released chilling footage of over 180 Chinese intercepts of U.S. warplanes that have taken place in the last two years. Military officials say the escalation is more than the total of the past decade combined and called the trend “disturbing.”
The released video and images preceded the Pentagon’s pending report on Beijing’s military might and threats it poses to U.S. allies in the region.
The Defense Department called the intercepts by Chinese jets and planes “coercive and risky” to stability in the South China Sea and the Indo-Pacific region.
Washington is worried about potential conflict with China over the explosive Taiwan issue even as two wars are being fought elsewhere. The U.S. military is deeply involved in supplying Ukraine for its war with Russia, and the administration is throwing its support behind Israel against Hamas.
Military leaders stressed that confrontations around the world have not depleted the ability to fend off Chinese aggression. Adm. John Acquilino is the head of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command.
January 11, 2023
A video newly released by the Department captures a PLA fighter jet in the course of conducting a coercive & risky intercept against a lawfully operating U.S. asset in the South China Sea, including by approaching a distance of just 30 feet from the U.S. plane. pic.twitter.com/9p8dVG7De6
— Ian Ellis (@ianellisjones) October 17, 2023
Addressing a Pentagon press briefing Tuesday, he declared, “I haven’t had one piece of equipment or force structure depart. We have been taking a number of steps to strengthen our commitment to the region, strengthen our deterrence in the region and we will continue to do that.”
Ely Ratner, assistant secretary of defense for Indo-Pacific security affairs, said the Pentagon’s release of videos and images underscored subversive actions by China.
He asserted, “The bottom line is that in many cases, this type of operational behavior can cause active and dangerous accidents.”
Ratner said they may also inadvertently lead to conflict. He added that Beijing “seeks to intimidate and coerce members of the international community to giving up their rights under international law.”
The examples released by Washington, he said, spotlight the “coercive intent” of the People’s Liberation Army — the Chinese military.
And that tally of 180 close encounters leaps to roughly 300 when incidents between Chinese aircraft and U.S. allies are included, according to the Pentagon.
The newly-released videos and images reveal dangerous maneuvers and risky flybys conducted at high speed. There have also been incidents where Chinese pilots released projectiles and other objects such as flares near U.S. aircraft.
These occurred, the Pentagon said, while U.S. aircraft were lawfully in international airspace.