Critics of President Joe Biden’s foreign policy agenda have speculated that it could embolden America’s enemies to test the U.S. administration’s military resolve. Recent reports indicate that might already be happening.
Alaska Public Radio reported that a flotilla of Chinese warships sailed within a few dozen miles of U.S. territory in the Aleutian Islands in recent weeks.
Chinese ships enter Exclusive Economic Zone
The revelation was included in a U.S. Coast Guard press release regarding the deployment of its own vessels in the Arctic region off the coast of Alaska and the Aleutian Islands chain stretching out across the northern Pacific Ocean.
According to the bulletin, four Chinese warships from the People’s Liberation Army Navy entered the U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone and sailed within 46 miles of the Alaskan islands. The vessels reportedly included a guided-missile cruiser, a guided-missile destroyer, an intelligence ship, and an auxiliary ship.
The Coast Guard indicated that the ships conducted military and surveillance operations within the zone but otherwise abided by international maritime law and did not enter U.S. territorial waters.
Three U.S. ships — two national security cutters and a medium icebreaker — monitored the Chinese vessels, according to the press release.
As Business Insider reported, an unnamed Coast Guard official said the incident took place between Aug. 29 and Sept. 1 and was contained to the EEZ, which extends out about 230 miles from the coast.
“In the name of freedom of navigation”
For its part, Chinese media described the incident as a “countermeasure against U.S. military provocations on China’s doorstep in the name of freedom of navigation.”
As recently as last week, U.S. naval vessels sailed through the South China Sea near islands claimed by China but which the U.S. insists are located in international waters.
America has referred to such exercises as “freedom of navigation operations,” but China has interpreted them as provocations and vowed to respond in kind.
The latest incident could simply blow over as similar escalations have in the past, but it could trigger future actions and contribute to an all-out military conflict between the U.S. and China.
In the meantime, it is up to the Biden administration to handle the situation — and the entire world is sure to be watching closely to see how it all plays out.