Already fuming at the US for having asked them to cancel annual military talks, which were supposed to be later this month, China is reacting angrily to reports that the US is planning a “global show of force” targeted at China in November.
Chinese state media warned that countermeasures would escalate if this show of force took place, and warned that the US military needs to exercise restraint instead of preparing major provocations against China.
The reports suggested that the US was going to ramp up military activities in November, in both the South China Sea and the area around Taiwan. This would involve the substantial deployment of US combat aircraft, as well as ground troops.
The Pentagon has been keen to pick fights with China in the South China Sea in recent years, mostly centering on sending warships and warplanes past artificial islands to show that the US doesn’t recognize them as Chinese. Last week, this led to a Chinese destroyer intercepting a US warship and forcing it away from the Spratly islands chain.
Mounting tensions over that, and the ongoing trade war, could’ve been addressed at the security talks, if the US hadn’t insisted China cancel them at the last minute. Chinese foreign ministry officials were also upset by US claims that China had cancel the talks themselves, saying it was “irresponsible” to make such claims when China had only done so at the request of US officials.
Pentagon officials appeared to go out of their way to avoid this admission at the time, with Defense Secretary James Mattis downplaying the fact that his trip was canceled, but making no effort to correct the record, when media reports clearly suggested it was China’s doing.