The Pentagon recently released footage showing the nearly 200 intercepts of U.S. military aircraft by Chinese planes that have taken place since 2021, marking an amount higher than the previous 10 years.
— NTD News (@NTDNews) October 18, 2023
The footage’s release came before the Pentagon’s soon-to-be-released annual report detailing China’s threat toward the U.S. and its ever-growing presence in the Indo-Pacific.
For years the Pentagon has tried to ready itself for a potential conflict with China over Taiwan’s sovereignty, but now finds itself in two hot wars, one in Europe and another in the Middle East, as reported by the Associated Press (AP).
U.S. Adm. John Acquilino recently appeared at a Pentagon press conference, where he said that the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command must exhaust all options to prevent China from potentially invading Taiwan.
Acquilino said that although the U.S. is sending military aid to Ukraine and Israel, it must not underestimate China.
“I haven’t had one piece of equipment or force structure depart,” he said, referring to aircraft, ships, and military units. “We have been taking a number of steps to strengthen our commitment to the region, strengthen our deterrence in the region and we will continue to do that.”
U.S. Indo-Pacific Command officials pointed out that the Chinese flights were risky and aggressive, stopping short of calling them unsafe — a term only used in worst-case scenarios. They said it was important to release the footage to call out China’s behavior in what could lead to a potential face-off between the U.S. and China.
“All of these examples we’ve released today underscore the coercive intent of (China) by engaging in behaviors, particularly in international airspace,” Assistant Secretary of Defense for Indo-Pacific Security Affairs Ely Ratner said.
“The bottom line is that in many cases, this type of operational behavior can cause active and dangerous accidents and can lead inadvertently to conflict,” Ratner added.
Notably, in December 2022, the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command reported that a Chinese aircraft performed an “unsafe maneuver” close to a U.S. plane, forcing the American aircraft to take preventive action. The incident occurred over the South China Sea.
It was later determined that the Chinese aircraft was “lawfully conducting routine operations” in international waters.