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US navy stirring up trouble in region’s peaceful waters: China Daily editorial | Updated: 2018-03-25 18:41
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The PLA air force planes are seen conducting training exercises, Nov 19, 2017. The PLA air force recently conducted a combat air patrol in the South China Sea. [Photo/Xinhua]

On Friday, the Ministry of National Defense expressed strong indignation and issued a stern warning after a US warship entered the waters around Chinese islands and reefs in the South China Sea.

The guided missile destroyer USS Mustin was warned away after it entered Chinese waters around China's Nasha Islands without permission.

The latest US move is just one of the 11 in the past few years, as the world' sole superpower has been ramping up its "freedom of navigation" operations, which it is using as a pretext for surveillance activities and countering what it claims are China's excessive maritime territorial claims in the waters.

However, it is the US' actions which risk impeding freedom of navigation and overflight in the South China Sea, as they have become a hazard in the waters.

And with the US resorting to repeated provocations against China in the South China Sea, the risks of it becoming a hotbed for China-US confrontation and even a regional flashpoint are certainly rising since the US operations increase the possibility of close encounters between the two countries' air forces and navies, which could, in turn, lead to a strategic misjudgment or even an accident.

The US' actions also run counter to the regional trend, as, over the past year or so, the tensions arising from the maritime disputes involving China and a few Southeast Asian countries have been markedly abated due to the concerted efforts of countries in region to build peace and stability in the waters.

Considering that the US under President Donald Trump is acting in an increasingly confrontational way against China, a head-on clash between the two countries' militaries in the waters, as some in the world arena have predicted, no longer seems a remote possibility.

Therefore, China is obliged to continue to improve its defense capabilities, so that both its air force and navy have improved combat readiness and capabilities.

If such an undesirable scenario does materialize, the US will bear the sole responsibility for it, for by permitting the risks to grow to such an extent in the South China Sea with its naval operations, it is also pushing China-US relations to the brink of a military showdown.

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