US Accuses China of ‘Aggressiveness’ in Taiwan Strait, South China Sea

China has been responding to the presence of US warplanes and warships near its coast

The White House on Monday accused the Chinese military of being more “aggressive” in waters near China’s coast following two encounters between the US and Chinese militaries in the South China Sea and the Taiwan Strait.

In recent years, the US has been increasing its military presence in the region as part of a buildup that is explicitly aimed at preparing for a future war with China. Beijing has been warning against the US buildup and now appears to be taking more action in an attempt to deter US flights and naval patrols.

On Saturday, the US said a Chinese warship passed within 150 yards in front of a US naval ship that was transiting the Taiwan Strait with a Canadian naval vessel. A few days earlier, the US accused a Chinese aircraft of conducting an “unprofessional intercept” of a US surveillance plane over the South China Sea.

“Sadly, this is just part of, again, a growing aggressiveness by the PRC [People’s Republic of China] that we’re dealing with, and we’re prepared to address it,” White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told reporters. “It won’t be long before somebody gets hurt.”

In Beijing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin defended the Chinese military’s actions when asked about the incident in the Taiwan Strait. “The actions taken by the Chinese military are necessary steps in response to the provocations by the country concerned. These actions are completely justified, lawful, safe, and professional,” Wang said.

“China resolutely opposes the country concerned stirring up trouble in the Taiwan Strait and is firmly determined to defend its sovereignty and security and regional peace and stability,” he added.

The encounter in the Taiwan Strait coincided with the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore that was attended by the US and Chinese defense chiefs. Chinese Defense Minister Li Shangfu also defended China’s actions and questioned the US military presence near China at the conference.

“They are not here for innocent passage, they’re here for provocation,” Li said. “What’s the point of going there? For China, we always say: mind your own business.”

The US has refused to lift sanctions on Li that were imposed on him in 2018 for his role in purchasing Russian military equipment. Because of the US refusal, China declined to hold a meeting between Li and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin at the conference in Singapore.

In Singapore, Austin vowed that the US would continue sending planes and warships into waters near China. Kirby said that if China was trying to deliver a message that American military assets weren’t welcome in the region, it wouldn’t succeed. “It’s not gonna happen,” he said.

The US military presence in the region heightens the risk of an accident between the two militaries, like the 2001 Hainan Island incident, when a US spy plane collided with a Chinese jet over the South China Sea, killing the Chinese pilot. Today, US-China relations are at their lowest point in decades, and a similar accident could spiral into a full-blown conflict.

Author: Dave DeCamp

Dave DeCamp is the news editor of, follow him on Twitter @decampdave.