China threatens to sail its navy into Hawaiian waters as US and Australia announce defence pact – days after flotilla of four Chinese vessels sail past Alaska

By JACK NEWMAN | DAILY MAIL

  • A cruiser, destroyer, auxiliary and intelligence vessel sailed close to US waters
  • They sailed near Alaska’s Aleutian Islands but maintained international protocol
  • Tensions are escalating between China and US amid South China Sea moves
  • A nuclear submarine pact was struck with UK, Australia and US to take on Beijing

China today threatened to send its Navy into Hawaiian waters in the latest round of sabre rattling in the Pacific after Australia, the US and Britain announced a new naval alliance in the region.

Four Chinese vessels have already been spotted sailing off the coast of Alaska this week in a display of naval power amid increasing tensions as a global nuclear submarine pact was signed to take on Beijing.

A  Chinese guided-missile cruiser, guided-missile destroyer, general intelligence vessel, and an auxiliary vessel were spotted off the coast of Alaska’s Aleutian Islands during surveillance operations in the Bering Sea.

The provocation came as China‘s state-run newspaper threatened to send warships to Hawaii and Guam in response to US moves in the South China Sea.

The Chinese flotilla sailed 42 miles off the coast of the Aleutian Islands near the coast of Alasksa

The Chinese flotilla sailed 42 miles off the coast of the Aleutian Islands near the coast of Alasksa

Four Chinese vessels have sailed off the coast of Alaska in a display of naval power amid increasing tensions

Four Chinese vessels have sailed off the coast of Alaska in a display of naval power amid increasing tensions

The Global Times’ editor-in-chief, Hu Xijin, 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.’

The US Navy responded to the tweet, saying they have ‘upheld the standards of freedom of navigation longer than the PLA navy has existed’.

They also pointed out that Chinese spy ships have frequently sailed past Hawaii and Guam in recent years.

They said: ‘The US Navy sails around the world in accordance with international law.

‘All countries benefit from freedom of navigation in accordance with international law.

‘Unfortunately, not all who benefit from freedom of navigation would extend that same freedom to others.’

The four warships, believed to include the 055 Nanchang destroyer were shadowed by the US Coast Guard

The four warships, believed to include the 055 Nanchang destroyer were shadowed by the US Coast Guard

While the Chinese ships that sailed in the Bering Sea near Alaska were close to US waters, they followed international laws, US officials said.

The four warships, believed to include the 055 Nanchang destroyer were shadowed by the US Coast Guard cutters Bertholf and Kimball, which were shown in a series of images released on Monday of the incident.

The Bertholf crew made radio contact with the the Chinese flotilla which sailed 46 miles from the coast and said all interactions were consistent with international standards.

Guard Pacific Area commander Vice Adm. Michael McAllister said in a statement: ‘Security in the Bering Sea and the Arctic is homeland security.

‘The U.S. Coast Guard is continuously present in this important region to uphold American interests and protect US economic prosperity.’

The state-run Global Times cited Chinese analysts saying the move could be a  ‘countermeasure against US military provocations on China’s doorsteps in the name of freedom of navigation’.

The provocation came as China's state-run newspaper threatened to send warships to Hawaii and Guam in response to US moves in the South China Sea

The US Navy responded to the tweet, listing a number of occasions Chinese spy ships have sailed close to US waters

 

The escalating tensions come amid a war of words over a new nuclear submarine pact between the UK, US and Australia aimed at combatting China – with Beijing denouncing their ‘Cold War mentality’.

The new alliance – called AUKUS – will see the US and UK cooperate to build Australia’s first ever nuclear submarine fleet which will comprise at least eight vessels. The trio will also share other military technologies such as artificial intelligence, cyber defence, quantum computing and long-range strike capabilities.

Boris Johnson, Joe Biden and Scott Morrison were careful not to mention Beijing as they announced the new deal last night, but there can be little doubt that the alliance’s purpose is to counter China’s growing aggression – particularly in the South China Sea, which is criss-crossed by valuable trading routes and fertile fishing grounds.

 

China wasted little time responding to the deal, with foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian denouncing the ‘exclusionary bloc’ which he said ‘seriously undermines regional peace and stability and intensifies the arms race.’

But Beijing is far from the only upset party. Paris was also quick to react, with foreign minister Yves Le-Drian complaining it is a ‘stab in the back’ after a $90bn deal for France supply Australia with 12 conventionally-powered submarines was torn up. The French subs were not due for completion until mid-2030, while the new pact aims for a much faster delivery time.

The deal also side-lines New Zealand and Canada – who together with the UK, US and Australia make up the Cold War-era Five Eyes intelligence alliance. While AUKUS is not a straight replacement for Five Eyes, it is almost certain to reduce its importance and isolates Wellington and Ottawa from the group.

It seems the duo have been punished for failing to take a stronger stance against Beijing, just four months after New Zealand refused to sign a joint Five Eyes statement which criticised China’s aggression in the South China Sea, its crackdown in Hong Kong, threats to Taiwan and its treatment of Uyghur Muslims.

Jacinda Ardern, New Zealand’s left-wing PM, has since admitted that she was not even consulted on the new pact – adding that Australia’s new subs will be banned from entering New Zealand waters under the country’s long-standing ‘nuclear free’ policy.

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