CHINA has sparked World War 3 fears after sending warships to Alaska amid boiling tensions with the US over the South China Sea dispute.
Four Chinese warships, including one of China’s most advanced destroyers, were spotted near the Aleutian Island chain.
Photos taken by the US Coast Guard showed the Chinese naval vessels shadowed by the US coastguard as they travelled through international waters on August 29 and 30.
The images were shared at the US military’s Defence Visual Information Distribution Service and showed the interactions between the two countries which were branded “safe and professional.”
One of the photos showed Captain Tim Brown, commanding officer of the US coastguard vessel, the Bertholf, with “a Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy ship operating as part of a four-ship task force,” reported the Times.
According to SCMP the Chinese vessels were a Type 055 destroyer, a Type 052D destroyer, a Type 815 spy ship, and a Type 903 replenishment ship.
The photos were shared online on Monday and were removed a few hours later.
It comes just after Beijing’s warning it will sail warships into US waters near Hawaii.
The warning followed the US Navy’s announcement last week that the Carl Vinson Carrier Strike Group had entered the area for the first time during its current deployment.
It fuelled tensions further when one ship in the group, the USS Benfold, conducted a “freedom of operation” exercise near the Spratly Islands that came within 12 miles of a reef claimed by China.
Retaliating, China’s state media hit out at the deployment of the ships in the highly contested area – warning US warships will sail towards the US.
Hu Xijin, the editor-in-chief of the state-run paper Global Times, tweeted: “Hopefully when Chinese warships pass through the Caribbean Sea or show up near Hawaii and Guam one day, the US will uphold the same standard of freedom of navigation.
“That day will come soon.”
And according to the Times Xijin added today that the exercises near Alaska mark an era of a “bigger maritime rivalry between China and the US.”
The US is wary of the presence of Chinese warships close to the country, particularly advanced destroyers like the Type 055
He said: “The era when the US ships one-sidedly declare ‘freedom of navigation’ in China’s near seas will be replaced by a new era in which Chinese and US battleships will reach near each other’s territorial seas.
“There will be a transition of several decades, but eventually China and the US, under brand-new conditions and through comparisons, will reach a rule of equity to ensure maritime safety.”
Yue Gang, a retired PLA colonel and a military commentator based in Beijing, told SCMP : “It’s been six years since [the Chinese warships] last sailed to waters off Alaska, which could be a display of the new force of the Chinese navy.
“Big warships need to test their abilities to maintain combat readiness during ocean missions.”
Wei Dongxu, a Beijing-based military expert, told the Global Times that the US is “wary of the presence of Chinese warships close to the country, particularly advanced destroyers like the Type 055.”
“Warships from the US have been making frequent provocations near China in the name of freedom of navigation and now it might feel a little uncomfortable to see Chinese warships on its doorsteps, Wei said, before adding that “this is a countermeasure and a signal against the US actions of hegemony.”
China is speculating the US could feel its “lost face by having Chinese warships sailing near it, taking some of its own medicine of freedom of navigation.”
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