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Intelligence official: US-China sea spat serious

 In this photo released by the U.S. Navy, the military Sealift Command ocean surveillance ship USNS Impeccable is seen underway on Monday, March 9, 20...
 Map shows Hainan Island, China, near where a U.S. Navy mapping ship was harassed by Chinese vessels1c x 3 3/4 inches; 46.5 mm x 95 mm;
 Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair waits to testify on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, March 10, 2009, before the Senate Armed Servi...

US China Incident

In this photo released by the U.S. Navy, the military Sealift Command ocean surveillance ship USNS Impeccable is seen underway on Monday, March 9, 20...

US CHINA INCIDENT

Map shows Hainan Island, China, near where a U.S. Navy mapping ship was harassed by Chinese vessels1c x 3 3/4 inches; 46.5 mm x 95 mm;

Intelligence Threats

Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair waits to testify on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, March 10, 2009, before the Senate Armed Servi...

A senior U.S. intelligence official said Tuesday the South China Sea incident involving a Navy surveillance ship and five Chinese vessels was the most serious episode between the two nations since 2001, when tensions rose over a mid-air collision.
U.S. National Intelligence Director Dennis Blair told members of the Senate Armed Services Committee that the confrontation Sunday between the USNS Impeccable and five Chinese ships indicated that China is willing to flex its military might.
"They seem to be more militarily aggressive," Blair said. "I think the debate is still on in China whether as their military power increases they will be used for good or for pushing people around."
Meanwhile, a State Department official said Tuesday that the Obama administration was considering whether to bring the matter up with Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi, who was due in Washington on Wednesday to meet with U.S. diplomats.
"If there is a need to pursue this further with the Chinese, I think we will do it at a higher level than the embassy," a U.S. official said Tuesday. The official spoke on condition of anonymity due to the diplomatic sensitivity of the matter.
Blair said the Impeccable's confrontation with the Chinese ships was the most aggressive display of Chinese military contact with the U.S. since April 2001, when a U.S. surveillance plane collided with a Chinese fighter jet in international airspace over Hainan Island. Sunday's naval confrontation occurred about 75 miles south of the island.
During the inflamed tensions between the U.S. and China that followed the 2001 air crash, China detained the U.S. plane's crew for 11 days. Then-Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld responded by breaking off relations between the two nations' military officials. Blair was an admiral at the time, heading the U.S. Pacific Command.
Blair's comments on the Impeccable incident were his only remarks during the hearing. But after the open hearing, Blair and other officials followed with a classified briefing on the confrontation to committee members.
U.S. officials said little more about the confrontation Tuesday after vowing Monday that naval operations would continue in the South China Sea.
China's Foreign Ministry responded Monday by rejecting U.S. accusations that the Chinese boats had operated recklessly and without cause. Chinese officials in turn said the Impeccable "broke international and Chinese laws in the South China Sea without China's permission."
U.S. Defense officials had said the Chinese boats veered so close to the Impeccable that the U.S. civilian crew had to spray one Chinese vessel with a high-pressure stream of water. Stripped to drenched underwear, the Chinese crew came within 25 feet. When the Impeccable tried to withdraw, U.S. officials claimed, Chinese boats veered in its path and dropped wood in the water to impede its progress.


Updated : 2021-04-15 08:29 GMT+08:00