Pentagon Calls Out Chinese Military’s Sharp Increase in Coercive & Risky Behaviour in Asia Pacific

The number of reckless or risky manoeuvres carried out by China’s military pilots close to the U.S. aircraft in the Asia-Pacific over the last two years has drastically increased, per U.S. defence officials.

Image for representation purposes only.

From the 2021 fall, there have been over 180 such incidents, the assistant secretary of defence, Ely Ratner, associated with Indo-Pac Security Affairs, mentioned on Tuesday.

In the past two years than in the decade before that. That is nearly 200 cases where the People’s Liberation Army operators have carried out some reckless manoeuvres, discharged chaff, shot off flares, or approached way too rapidly or very too close to U.S. aircraft.

The number of such incidents over the same phase, when expanding the scope to include the Chinese military risky attitude toward the US-allied aircraft as well, went up to 300.

The Department of Defense released on Monday a set of videos and images that reflected 15 recent instances where China’s pilots had executed “coercive and risky” manoeuvres that go back to January 2022. In some of the instances, China’s pilots can be seen coming in less than 30 feet from the U.S. aircraft.

The department is going to continue raising awareness regarding the dangers of the PLA as coercive and risky operational behaviours, Ratner mentioned. 

Continuous efforts will be made to seek open lines of eminent military-to-military communication with the PLA at several levels, including the top-most level. These channels are key to preventing competition from veering inadvertently into a conflict. Finally, the US will not be coerced or deterred.

Admiral John Aquilino, the commander of the US Indo-Pac Command, said that he is most concerned about the potential for future accidents that could result in a major miscalculation.

Ratner further noted that China’s military aggression extends to the maritime domains in both the South and East China Sea.

The disclosure of these incidents comes ahead of the military’s release of its congressionally mandated 2023 “Report on Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China,” also known as the China Military Power Report.

Ratner said that the report is going to describe China’s air force’s behaviour as a concerted and centralized campaign and added that a concerted and centralized campaign to execute such risky behaviours to coerce a change in legal U.S. operational activities and that of the U.S. allies and it’s partners. They have witnessed that PLA pilots interfere deliberately with and also create turbulence for operators by flying in front of US aircraft at very close distances.

The Chinese military has responded infrequently to the US’ requests for communications between senior leaders as the rapport between the two adversarial nations soured owing to several events, including the spy balloon from China that travelled the continental US and the former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-CA) visit to Taiwan that infuriated the Beijing officials in 2022.

References: voanews, gazette

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