The Chinese Communist Party is readying two new aircraft carriers for deployment off the coast of Taiwan that could lead to a military confrontation with the US ships in the region, as the relationship between the two global powers has become strained by trade issues and the coronavirus pandemic, according to a report.
The ships Liaoning and Shandong, part of the People’s Liberation Army navy, are conducting military readiness drills in the Yellow Sea but are expected to move into the South China Sea to Pratas Island for invasion mock battles, CCP-controlled Global Times reported.
Noting Chinese President Xi Jinping’s assertions of territorial control over most of the waterway and lack of respect for the sovereignty of countries in the region, like Taiwan, the “risk of a military confrontation in the South China Sea involving the United States and China could rise significantly in the next eighteen months,” the Council on Foreign Relations said in a report issued last week.
The think tank said the US has a “strong interest” in stopping China from taking control over the South China Sea to keep the waterway open for navigation and secure international supply chains.
“The United States is also at risk of being drawn into a military conflict with China in this region as a result of U.S. defense treaty obligations to at least one of the claimants to the contested territory, the Philippines,” the council said.
Enlarge ImageThe Shandong aircraft carrier
The Shandong aircraft carrierXinhua News Agency/Getty Images
President Trump, who has accused Beijing of misleading the world on the coronavirus pandemic, has been sparring with Xi over China’s trade policies, which he said are stacked against US corporations.
“We could cut off the whole relationship” with China, Trump told “Fox Business” earlier this month.
Those comments led to Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi accusing the US of pushing the two countries to the “brink of a new Cold War.”
“China has no intention to change, still less replace, the United States,” Wang said. “It’s time for the United States to give up its wishful thinking of changing China and stopping 1.4 billion people in their historic march toward modernization.”