The Chinese have conducted a simulated cruise missile attack against the USS Reagan aircraft carrier during a close encounter that occurred several weeks ago. The targeting incident took place in the Sea of Japan in October, and it was in violation of China’s 2014 commitment to the multinational Code for Unplanned Encounters at Sea (CUES). The news has been reported by American defense officials.
In the simulated attack, the crew of a Chinese attack submarine allegedly aimed their guns, missiles, fire control radar and torpedo tubes in the direction of the American vessel. No weapons were actually fired, but the Chinese took virtually every preparation possible. Basically, encountering the American aircraft carrier was enough reason for the Chinese to conduct an emergency drill.
According to the non-binding CUES agreement, commanders at sea should avoid actions that could result in accidents or mishaps. This includes the simulation of attacks. The simulated attack by the Chinese came just days before the USS Lassen Navy warship sailed in close proximity to the disputed islands in the South China Sea, causing vocal complaints from the Chinese.
The Obama administration has largely kept the details of the recent targeting incident a secret in order to prevent the disruption of relations between the Pentagon and the People’s Liberation Army of China. Military officials who were asked about the incident mostly declined to comment. Navy officials said nothing more than that they are confident in their ability to defend themselves.
Currently, the Chinese are maintaining two navy warships at Pearl Harbor. The ships are expected to stay in Hawaii for five days, during which time, the United States Navy and the Chinese fleet will hold multiple receptions of positive relations. There will also be friendly sports activities, including basketball games and soccer matches.
The purpose of these meetings is reportedly to reduce tensions between the Americans and the Chinese. Pentagon officials have stated that they want to obtain closer ties with the Chinese military. That said, some Americans are concerned that doing so might improve the warring capabilities of the Chinese. The simulated attack has many American lawmakers quite concerned.
Republican House member from Virginia Randy Forbes said, “If true, this would be yet another case of China trying to show us that they can hold our forces in the region at risk. Coming on the heels of anti-satellite tests and other demonstrations, this latest incident should be a reminder of the destabilizing course that China is on and the challenges we face in maintaining a stable military balance in the Asia-Pacific region.”
So while the two countries might have fun playing soccer and basketball for now, Americans should remain wary of the Chinese. If China seriously wants to attack one of America’s major air carriers, it’s hard to imagine that a positive relationship can be maintained. While it’s true, a test is just a test, China might have larger plans.