Chinese vessels could ram US warships in S China Sea: Sina

The People’s Liberation Army may deliberately ram a vessel into a US warship if the US Navy makes further ventures into waters claimed by China, says the Beijing-based Sina Military News, just as US officials confirmed that they have sent a destroyer to pass within 12 nautical miles of one of China’s artificial islands in the disputed region.

The report said the US Navy has since May been sending warships near China’s man-made islands in the South China Sea. But until now, the ships have operated at least 12 nautical miles away from the islands where China has been conducting extensive land reclamation to build airstrips and facilities. The move on Tuesday goes further in challenging China’s territorial claims.

Given that China’s military constructions such as runways on several South China Sea islands are not yet complete and the PLA’s South Sea Fleet is too far away to react promptly, the only option for China is to use nearby patrol frigates to monitor and intercept US vessels that come within what Beijing considers its territory.

According to Sina, the PLA has two strategies. The first is to send a ship to follow the US vessel tightly and push them out of the restricted area. The second and more drastic measure is to send a Chinese ship to collide with the US vessel.

Sina said the second option is effective and is not without precedent, pointing out that the Soviet Union once sent two frigates to ram a US guided missile cruiser that ventured into Soviet territorial waters in 1988. The Soviets issued a statement the next day claiming that the two frigates had “lost control,” eventually leading to discussions about maritime safety between the two governments.

This dangerous strategy was suggested by Sina just a day before the US sent a warship close to one of China’s artificial islands in the South China Sea. US officials said the destroyer USS Lassen “conducted a transit” within 12 nautical miles of Subi Reef in the Spratly archipelago on Tuesday morning local time, adding that the ship would have been in an area considered Chinese sovereign territory if the US recognized the islands as belonging to China.

Full article: Chinese vessels could ram US warships in S China Sea: Sina (Want China Times)

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