In a move that further strained already tense relations between the United States and China, the US destroyer Hopper entered Chinese territorial waters on Saturday without the approval of Beijing authorities. The Chinese military responded by deploying naval and air forces to "track, monitor and warn" the ship, according to an official statement posted on the WeChat network of the People's Liberation Army's Southern District Command.
The incident highlights the growing risk of conflict in the South China Sea, a region where China is making expansive territorial claims that overlap with those of neighboring countries, including the Philippines, Vietnam and Malaysia.
The US has repeatedly contested China's claims, conducting freedom of navigation operations in the area to pursue its own interests and uphold international law.
The USA is the creator of the security risk
A Chinese military statement accused the US of being "an open 'security risk creator' in the South China Sea" and warned that China would take "decisive measures" to protect its national sovereignty and territorial integrity.
The statement also came just days after China accused the Philippines of hiring "foreign forces" to patrol the South China Sea, alluding to joint patrols conducted by Philippine and US forces since Tuesday. US-China tensions in the South China Sea have escalated in recent years, with both sides engaging in military exercises and rhetoric that has raised fears of a potential conflict.
In October, the US Navy conducted a series of drills in the South China Sea, including a live-fire exercise involving an aircraft carrier. China responded with its own military exercises, and the two sides exchanged heated words in public statements.
The latest incident involving the US destroyer Hopper underscores the urgent need for dialogue and diplomacy to resolve tensions in the South China Sea. Both the US and China have a responsibility to avoid actions that could escalate the situation and lead to a devastating conflict. The international community should also play a role in promoting dialogue and cooperation between the two sides.