US and China could ‘sleepwalk into conflict’ says Lawrence Wong

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Reports have claimed that China is building five hulls of the Type 052D Luyang III-class destroyer at the Dalian shipyard in the country’s northeast, according to Naval News. All six will come armed with guided tactical missiles and advanced radar systems.

They are 157 metres long and are said to be one of China’s most advanced warships.

The vessels have a 7,500-tonne displacement, 64 vertical launch systems for missiles, and a 130mm gun attached.

The six extra destroyers would add to what is already the world’s largest Navy, with 777 warships in total at present.

And it already has an existing fleet of 25 Type 052D destroyers after eight were built last year.

Prof John Blaxland from the Australian National University’s strategic and defence studies centre, said this is more evidence that China’s military is “growing exponentially”, which is “deeply worrying”.

He said: “When you look at (China’s) capability it is growing exponentially

“It’s going from being a brown-water navy designed for close protection of China’s shores to a true blue-water navy.

“They are designed to assert China’s influence to match its economic growth, not just in the South China Sea, not just in the first island chain [which includes Taiwan], but also more expansively through the Indo Pacific and the Pacific Ocean.

“It’s growing the navy to bolster its economic heft with military muscle.”

And it comes as tensions between the US (which has 490 warships in Navy) and China have soared following Nancy Pelosi’s visit to the island of Taiwan.

Following her visit to the nation, which China claims sovereignty over, the US Speaker of the House of Representatives stressed that “we cannot allow the Chinese government to isolate Taiwan”.

Beijing condemned her visit, and shortly after conducted military drills and fired missiles in a horror warning as fears of an invasion of the island soared.

While China’s military operations around Taiwan have since slowed down, the levels are still higher than what is historically normal.

But US officials have stressed that they are scrambling to engage in an open and constructive dialogue with Beijing.

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State Department deputy spokesperson Vedant Pate said: “Deputy Secretary [Wendy] Sherman met with the (People’s Republic of China) ambassador to the United States (Qin Gang) … on August 23.

“We have and will continue to keep the lines of communication open with the PRC.

“Beijing has shut down some key communication channels and cooperation across several vital issues that affect the entire world

“But the United States continues to seek an open and constructive line of communication to manage our differences, especially during moments of tension.”

But despite this, experts have warned that China “could use the nuclear card” as the feud rumbles on.

In an interview with Jacobin magazine, Lyle J. Goldstein, an associate professor at the Strategic Research Department at the US Naval War College (NWC), said: ”If I were to blame Pelosi for anything, it’s that, in the nuclear age, this kind of posturing is ridiculous and should be condemned widely.”

He later added: “We have to wonder, in the nuclear era, at that point would China resort to some kind of nuclear use to warn the others away.”

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