BEIJING • The US Navy's two severe collisions within two months showed that its combat readiness and military management levels have declined, and it is becoming an increasing risk to shipping in Asia despite its claims of helping to protect freedom of navigation, an official Chinese newspaper said in an editorial yesterday.
The state-run China Daily said people will wonder why such a sophisticated navy keeps having these problems.
"The investigations into the latest collision will take time to reach their conclusions, but there is no denying the fact that the increased activities by US warships in the Asia-Pacific since Washington initiated its rebalancing to the region are making them a growing risk to commercial shipping," it said.
Reuters, which reported the editorial, noted that China has been upset at US freedom of navigation operations near Chinese-controlled islands in the disputed South China Sea, where Beijing has been reclaiming land, building airbases and increasing its military presence.
"While the US Navy is becoming a dangerous obstacle in Asian waters, China has been making joint efforts with the members of the Association of South-east Asian Nations (Asean) to draw up a code of conduct for the South China Sea, and it has boosted navigational safety by constructing five lighthouses on its islands," the China Daily said.
"Anyone should be able to tell who is to blame for militarising the waters and posing a threat to navigation," it added.
Another daily, in an editorial late on Monday, said the latest US Navy mishap was met with "applause from Chinese netizens".
The Global Times, a nationalistic daily, said the Chinese reaction "reflects the sentiment of Chinese society towards the activities of the US Navy in the South China Sea".
It blasted the US Navy for behaving "arrogantly" in the region, adding that if it wanted to keep its frequent presence in the waters, it needed to familiarise itself with the large number of merchant vessels that use Asian sea lanes.
A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman yesterday also expressed concern over the "dangers to freedom of navigation" in the South China Sea and the related area, and hoped it would be "dealt with appropriately".