The United States will increase its military incursions in the South China Sea if Beijing fails to come on strong, says a military expert.
“The recent US flight of B-52s over the China Spratly Islands area can be classified as a dare… and also a test to see how China is going to respond,” said Scott Bennett, a former US Army Psychological Warfare officer, in a Friday interview with Press TV.
The comments follow the recent flights of two US B-52 bombers very close to China's artificial islands in the South China Sea, where Washington and Beijing are at odds over Chinese territorial claims.
If China does not send up any airplanes or naval forces to match the US forces, then the US will take this as a sign of weakness and exploit this weakness by increasing its patrols,” Bennett pointed out.
A US official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told The Hill newspaper on Thursday that the bombers made one pass within 12 nautical miles (22.2km, or 13.8 miles) of the islands over the weekend.
The Chinese military radioed the bombers and told them to “get away from our islands.” However, according to the US official, the bombers refused to obey the Chinese order.
Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook on Thursday confirmed the incident to the paper, but declined to say when it happened.
“I know that we conduct B-52 flights in the international airspace in that part of the world all the time,” Cook said.
Beijing has on different occasions asserted its sovereignty over the South China Sea, with Chinese Vice Admiral Yuan Yubai, commander of the People’s Liberation Army Navy’s (PLAN) North Sea Fleet, insisting back in September that the sea belongs to his country.
However, the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan also have overlapping claims over the South China Sea.