August 17, 2022: -On Tuesday, the commander of the U.S. Seventh Fleet said that he’d noticed an upsurge in “unsafe” aerial intercepts by the Chinese troops in the South China Sea province.
In May, a Chinese soldier aircraft blocked a Royal Australian Air Force P-8 maritime surveillance plane in the South China Sea area. Australia’s defense department added that it was “dangerous” to its aircraft and crew. The department counted that the Chinese aircraft fired chaff that was stunk into the Australian plane’s engine.
“This reported increase in the air is concerning. It’s not a very forgiving environment if anything goes wrong when flying in the air,” Karl Thomas said.
Thomas stated in a press briefing that keeping sea lanes open is the “initial and foremost” mission of the U.S. Navy.
“Sea lanes are the lifeblood of the economies. The vice admiral said that having open sea lanes and shipping that can operate is important to keep the economy running,” the vice admiral added.
At the U.N. Conference on Trade and Development, about 80% of global trade volume will be carried by sea in 2021.
China says that sovereignty over almost the whole body of water. However, other countries, including the U, do not acknowledge that claim, and it hasn’t been held up in a court of international arbitration. The South China Sea holds a few of the busiest commercial shipping lanes in the world. Thomas was aware to note that dangerous aerial intercepts remain rare.
“We don’t see it happen very frequently. It’s not such as every day; something’s going on. It’s an infrequent action,” he added. “And then you start asking yourself, is it because it’s an unprofessional pilot? Or is it broader than that?”
The commander defended “freedom of navigation” operations by the U.S. and other countries as part of a rules-based order following the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.
He maintained that China’s claims more than the South China Sea need to be “challenged.”
“If you don’t challenge it, the situation is that it will become the norm People accept it. And then suddenly, people are making claims such as the entire South China Sea stands their territorial sea.”