Hainan Island, China — The U.S. and China are jockeying for power in the South China Sea, deploying sharp words and an expanding fleet of warships, spy planes and fighter jets to protect their interests in a vital maritime domain.
Is this regional arms race and increasingly tense diplomatic showdown between the world’s two largest military forces a new Cold War?
Not exactly. But it is dangerous, according to military officials and analysts based in the Pacific Rim.
Run-ins between U.S. and Chinese military personnel in the South China Sea are happening on a routine basis, American commanders say, stressing their efforts to keep the encounters safe and professional. CNN broadcast one of them in late May, when the Chinese navy repeatedly warned a U.S. surveillance plane flying over man-made islands it occupies to clear out of the area.