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Region should be on high alert to moves of US spoiling, saboteuring and disrupting: China Daily editorial

chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2020-07-13 21:00

Nothing seems to stir the hearts of some Americans more than broadcast footage of US naval vessels steaming through far-off waters. They may be more than a little fuzzy about the geography and the reason why, but it swells their hearts with pride that the US is able to flex its muscles so far afield.

Which is perhaps why US administrations like to show off the country's naval power whenever things are not going well at home.

Which, by any stretch of the imagination, they are not at the moment.

Giving substance to the observation that war is the unfolding of miscalculations, the US has been fighting a chaotic — and losing — battle against the COVID-19 pandemic. That has hurt its self-image.

It has also damaged its public image, as the administration's petulant blame game has prompted it to terminate the country's membership of the World Health Organization. That has not gone down well with other countries, who know that only by standing together can the pandemic be brought under control. It really is a case of all for one.

Having received a great deal of flak for this anti-social move and others of a similar selfish ilk, it is no wonder that the US Navy's latest carryings-on in the South China Sea were accompanied by the claim they were intended to send "an unambiguous signal to our partners and allies that we are committed to regional security and stability".

But that is the customary US doublespeak. The first appearance of two US carriers in the waters since 2014 and second since 2001, was just more US posturing and troublemaking. As a spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry said, the exercises were intended to drive a wedge between regional countries. The hammering of division is likely to be ramped up this week, as the US administration will reportedly announce its "official position" on the South China Sea.

Not one to mince its words, the People's Liberation Army Daily used stronger terms to condemn the naval exercises, calling the US a "spoiler, saboteur and disrupter" of regional peace and stability. No doubt the "official position" will offer further proof of this.

Partly an outcome of the escalating ongoing war of words between Beijing and Washington, the US naval muscle-flexing in the South China Sea is a confrontational posture that comes with grave risks. Although Washington doesn't want to start a real war with China, there is the possibility of the unfolding of miscalculations if it continues to try and stir up trouble in the South China Sea.

It is to be hoped that countries in the region remain clear-eyed about the progress they have made in agreeing a code of conduct for the South China Sea and do not let Washington's "official" meddling undermine the consensus that peace and stability benefit all in the region.

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