“The Pentagon has declassified footage depicting over 180 interceptions of U.S. military aircraft by Chinese planes in the last two years. This alarming increase in incidents marks a significant surge compared to the previous decade, raising concerns among U.S. military officials.
The release of these photos and videos comes ahead of the forthcoming annual Pentagon report on China’s military capabilities and the potential security threats it poses to countries in the Indo-Pacific region.
Over the years, the Pentagon has aimed to maintain preparedness for a potential conflict with China, particularly regarding Taiwan, while concurrently supporting allies in active conflicts in other parts of the world, such as Ukraine in Europe and Israel in the Middle East.”
During a Pentagon news briefing on Tuesday, Admiral John Acquilino, the leader of the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, stated that despite the United States deploying carrier strike groups and amphibious ships to assist Israel and the ongoing conflict in Ukraine that has lasted nearly 20 months, the command possesses the necessary resources to effectively deter China.
“I haven’t had one piece of equipment or force structure depart” his command, he said, referring to ships, aircraft and military units. “We have been taking several steps to strengthen our commitment to the region, strengthen our deterrence in the region and we will continue to do that.”
China has justified its interceptions and various military actions as essential measures to safeguard its national security, particularly in response to U.S. naval and aerial reconnaissance activities, which it claims escalate tensions in the region.
The officials said the Chinese flights were risky and aggressive in nature, but stopped short of calling most of them unsafe — a specific term that is used only in the most egregious cases. Still, the officials said it was important to release the footage and call out the behavior because they said it was part of a larger trend of regional intimidation by China that could accidentally lead to conflict.
“All of these examples we’ve released today underscore the coercive intent of (China) by engaging in behaviors particularly in international airspace,” said Ely Ratner, assistant secretary of defense for Indo-Pacific security affairs.
“The bottom line is that in many cases, this type of operational behavior can cause active and dangerous accidents” and can lead inadvertently to conflict, Ratner said.