It happened now and it will happen again: a near-collision between an American and a Chinese naval vessel in the South China Sea.
The USS Cowpens, a 10,000-ton guided-missile cruiser, got "too close" to a drill involving the Liaoning, China's first aircraft carrier, and its carrier task force, according to the Global Times.
The US Pacific Fleet stressed that the cruiser had to take emergency measures to avoid a collision. Yet the Global Times accused the cruiser of "harassing" the Liaoning formation by taking "offensive actions".
The paper spelt it loudly; "If the American navy and air force always encroach near China's doorstep, confrontation is bound to take place."
Finally, China's Defense Ministry intervened to clarify that the vessels had "met" each other in the South China Sea but the worst was avoided via "effective and normal communication".
Communication had better be damned "effective" from now on as China asserts itself as a rising sea power and it's obviously unclear who can really do what in the South as well as the East China Sea, not to mention the oceans beyond.
It's a fact that China's still booming economy is directly dependent on its complex maritime lines of supply (and demand) - mostly over the Indian Ocean and the Western Pacific. But that does not mean that China is trying to control its surrounding seas by imposing a sino-version of the 19th century Monroe Doctrine, which was essentially a continental strategy of hemispheric domination (ask any informed Latin American about it).
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