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China Can Take US Navy Anytime Now
[Image: rtx1ux9u.jpg]

The first confrontation between the US and Chinese navies concluded on Tuesday, when the Chinese returned a underwater oceanographic drone captured in international waters outside of the Philippines.
“The incident was inconsistent with both international law and standards of professionalism for conduct between navies at sea,” said Peter Cook, a Defense Department spokesman.
And President-elect Trump tweeted of the incident: “Let them keep it.“
The drone, composed of about $150,000 in off-the-shelf technology, ranks low on the list of US-China military confrontations, as past confrontations have involved aircrews being detained and planes grounded, but it marks a very important shift in what is quickly becoming one of the most militarized and fraught regions on the planet.
“It’s a very big deal in my view because it’s the first time a Chinese navy ship has been involved in a confrontation with a US Navy ship,” said Bonnie Glaser, an expert on Chinese foreign and security policy at the Center for Strategic & International Studies.
While the confrontation consisted of a Chinese navy ship plucking the drone out of the sea, the drone belonged to a US Navy ship not far off. This action set a dangerous precedent sure to make US allies doubtful of American commitment to the region.
Glaser pointed to China’s “willingness to just blatantly put a boat in the water and seize the drone,” which she described as “an act demonstrating that they’re going to do whatever is necessary to protect their interests in the South China Sea.”
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A graphic explaining what the captured drone did.
Indeed, China has come a very long way in the South China Sea. A few decades ago, China had a small, limited navy incapable of projecting power across a large swath of sea and islands such as the South China Sea.
But now, as China has become enriched by trade and investments, its navy has grown impressively. For years now, China has been building artificial islands in the South China Sea and outfitting them with radar outposts, military-grade runways, and air defenses— everything Beijing would need to lock down the region and shoot down any planes that challenge its claims.

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