Chinese officials demanded extensive “details” about a collision involving a U.S. nuclear submarine in the South China Sea, which Beijing quoted as continuing to argue against U.S. military operations in a region that rising communist power seeks to dominate.
“We are seriously concerned about the incident,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told reporters, according to the official transcript. “As the party involved, the United States had to clarify what happened, in detail, including the exact location of the incident, the US side’s navigation intent, the details of the incident, the object the submarine hit, whether the collision caused a nuclear leak or damaged local marine environment, etc.”
U.S. Pacific Fleet officials revealed that the USS Connecticut “hit an object while it was submerged” on Saturday, stressing that the submarine “remains in a safe and stable condition.” The incident, which took place just weeks after the announcement of a landmark agreement for the United States and the British government to supply Australia with nuclear submarines, sparked China’s wider objection to US and allied operations in the disputed waters of the South China Sea.
“This is just a kind of classic Chinese line, just where they’re trying to argue that U.S. operations in the South China Sea are inherently risky and dangerous,” the American Enterprise Institute’s Zack Cooper told the Washington Examiner. “The fact that it was a submarine with a nuclear attack means that they have a small but more ample reason to try to criticize this at the moment in view of the AUKUS agreement.”
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The South China Sea is a large and important waterway that Beijing is trying to claim as sovereign Chinese territory at the expense of several neighboring states along the South China Sea coastlines.
“The United States has long created problems in the South China Sea in the name of ‘free movement’, which poses a serious threat and poses major risks to regional peace and stability,” Zhao said at the briefing. “The United States and the United Kingdom recently decided to engage in nuclear submarine cooperation with Australia, a non-nuclear-weapon state, and blatantly disperse nuclear submarines in the Asia-Pacific. … The odds of a nuclear incident will also increase dramatically. ”
Australia sought nuclear submarines as part of a military build-up designed to offset growing threats from China, which built artificial islands in the South China Sea and deployed military assets to these outposts. US and European states have increased their military presence in the region to stress that they do not accept Beijing’s legal claims, which have been rejected by an international court.
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“USS Connecticut’s nuclear power plants and space were not affected and remain fully operational,” Pacific Fleet officials said. “The extent of damage to the rest of the submarine is assessed.”
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Tags: News, foreign policy, national security, China, nuclear submarine, energy and environment, South China Sea
Original author: Joel Gehrke
Original location: China demands information on whether a submarine collision in the US ’caused a nuclear leak’