The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) of China on Tuesday confirmed it has been conducting joint patrols with Russia near the Alaskan coast, promised the provocative activity will only intensify, and said the U.S. was hypocritical to complain because it insists on supposedly comparable freedom of navigation patrols in the South China Sea.
“In the future, the Chinese Navy could conduct more far sea patrols like this, either alone or together with other countries. The Americans should get used to it,” sneered Chinese military expert Fu Qianshao.
“The US should not forget that it frequently sends warships and warplanes to other countries’ doorsteps for so-called freedom of navigation operations, including to the South China Sea and the Taiwan Straits,” Fu said.
This has become a very popular talking point in China’s robotic state media. The Global Times used exactly the same language on Tuesday when rejecting American warnings that China was crossing a “red line” by conducting military drills near Alaska, fuming that America has no right to complain when it keeps “trespassing into Chinese territorial waters without permission” – a reference to China’s illegal claims to control the entire South China Sea.
“This China-Russia joint patrol is a message to the US that China and Russia have a common security pursuit in this region and are fully capable of defending their interests. The Pacific Ocean is vast enough to accommodate the peaceful coexistence of different countries. It doesn’t belong only to the US, and the US doesn’t have the final say for the region,” the Global Times huffed, three paragraphs after complaining that every American ship in the South China Sea is “trespassing” against Beijing’s fanciful territorial claims.
“The world is heading toward multipolarity, and the US will only find out that its hegemony and authoritarian control over the world will face more and more questioning and challenges. The U.S. will have to get used to it sooner or later,” the Global Times concluded, parroting Fu Qianshao’s talking point.
What China expects the United States to “get used to” was a flotilla of almost a dozen Russian and Chinese warships that sailed near the Aleutian Islands last week, prompting a response from United States aircraft and destroyers.
According to the Russian Defense Ministry, the combined fleet “practiced joint tactical maneuvering, conducted communications training and carried out helicopter landings and take-offs from the decks of each other’s ships.”
Russian officials said the flotilla practiced “hunting down and destroying a notional enemy’s submarine.” The Russian contingent included two “large anti-submarine warfare ships.”
The Pentagon said the Russian-Chinese flotilla remained in “international waters” and was not “deemed to pose a threat.”
“Like any country, they are free to conduct exercises in international airspace, international waters,” Pentagon press secretary Brig. Gen. Paty Ryder said on Monday.
Alaska’s two Republican senators, Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan, were less sanguine about the exercise, describing it as a reminder that Alaska plays an “essential role” in U.S. national defense.
“We have entered a new era of authoritarian aggression led by the dictators in Beijing and Moscow,” Sullivan declared.
The senators’ remarks, and United States media coverage of them, appeared to be what Chinese state media was hyperventilating about this week. The Global Times was driven to distraction on Monday by Heritage Foundation senior research fellow Brent Sadler’s describing the joint exercise as “highly provocative” given Russia’s attack on Ukraine and China’s growing aggression toward Taiwan.
The Global Times said it was “purely groundless speculation” for Sadler to connect the Alaska drill with Russian and Chinese aggression in Ukraine and Taiwan, claiming instead that America’s “hegemonic mindset and its double standard are the true reasons behind its anxiety.”
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