The Chinese military on Thursday asked the US to stop close-in reconnaissance, interference, provocation in the disputed South China Sea after the recent accident involving an American nuclear-powered submarine in the region. The USS Connecticut struck an object underwater in the South China Sea (SCS) last month. Eleven sailors on board the submarine were injured in the accident.
Commenting on the US Navy dismissing two senior officers of the nuclear-powered attack submarine, Chinese Defence Ministry Spokesman Sr. Col Wu Qian told media here that since the collision occurred, the US side's awkward and secretive attitude has inevitably raised doubts. Raising several questions over the activities of the submarine, Wu said, China believes the root causes of this incident are the extensive and high-intensity close-in reconnaissance, interference, provocation and show of force made by the US military vessels in the Asia-Pacific region, as well as the United States' militarisation and navigation hegemony in the South China Sea.
We urge the US side to stop such activities immediately, so as to avoid beating its head against the wall, Wu said. The US in recent years has intensified aerial and naval patrols in the South China Sea to assert freedom of navigation.
China claims most of the South China Sea. Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan have counter claims over the area. Over the years, China has built a number of military installations in the reclaimed islands in the SCS and deployed a big fleet of its naval ships and submarines. The United States has criticised China for militarising the islands by constructing long runways used by jet fighters and deploying anti-aircraft missiles.
The US insists that freedom of navigation has to be maintained in the South China Sea and has been sending military flights, naval patrols and training missions around the strategically vital region. Wu also highlighted deepening ties between China-Russian militaries in the backdrop of intensified push against them by the US and allies in recent years.
"There is no limit to the mil-to-mil relationship between China and Russia, and there is no end to the China-Russia military cooperation," he said, commenting on the current mil-to-mil relationship between China and Russia. The two militaries have intensified pragmatic cooperation on military exercise and training, he said.
"The Chinese military stands ready to engage in close strategic coordination with the Russian side and deepen exchanges and cooperation, in order to bring more benefits for the two countries and peoples, and play a bigger role in safeguarding world peace and stability," he said.