China warns risk of naval incident with US on the rise

The U.S. military sends "unprecedented" numbers to the Asia-Pacific region, increasing the risk of an incident with the Chinese Navy, a senior Chinese official said Tuesday.
Tensions between the two superpowers have increased on several fronts since President Donald Trump took office in 2017, with both countries developing their diplomatic and military forces.
The United States' regular "freedom of navigation" operations in the South China Sea - where China and neighboring countries have competing claims - annoy Beijing, and the Chinese Navy typically warns of US ships.
For its part, Beijing has infuriated other nations by building artificial islands with military facilities in parts of the sea.
"US military intervention in the Asia-Pacific region is unprecedented," said Wu Shicun, president of the National Institute for South China Sea Studies, a government think tank.
"The possibility of a military incident or an accidental shot is increasing," said Wu.
"If a crisis broke out, the impact on bilateral relations would be catastrophic."
Wu spoke on submitting a report from his institute on the U.S. military presence in the region.
According to the report, the U.S. has deployed 375,000 soldiers and 60 percent of its warships in the Indo-Pacific region. Three US aircraft carriers were dispatched to the region.
During the eight-year term of former President Barack Obama, the U.S. Navy conducted four free navigation operations, 22 of which were under Trump, Wu said.
The two military officers "should strengthen communication" to "avoid strategic misunderstandings and miscalculations," the report said.
High-level military meetings should be resumed, a direct telephone line opened, and joint naval maneuvers conducted.
The report states that China does not see the United States as a potential rival or "is contemplating a new cold or hot war with the United States."
The document warns that "deteriorating military relations would significantly increase the likelihood of a dangerous incident, conflict, or even crisis".

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