A US Navy EP-3 spy plane conducted close surveillance activities near China’s Hainan Island over the South China Sea on May 17, prompting two Chinese J-11 fighters to approach the US plane for monitoring purposes. The US alleges the Chinese aircraft carried out an “unsafe” intercept, and claims that the US plane was flying in international airspace. China thinks otherwise on both counts. This incident is the latest in a series of close encounters between US military airplanes or battleships and other countries, the most recent being the interception of a US surveillance plane by a Russian fighter jet. Do these encounters signal a growing threat of military conflict, or are they simply a show of strength? Why is the US intent on conducting freedom of navigation exercises in this region? The US unexpectedly criticized Vietnam recently for building on an island in the South China Sea, and Vietnam has made clear its welcoming stance toward the Russian navy returning to Cam Ranh Bay. How should we interpret these developments? And what can we expect from the South China Sea arbitration this summer? Join CCTVNEWS for a discussion with Professor Xu Hui from the National Defense University of China; Teng Jianqun, Director for the Center of Arms Control of the China Institute of International Studies; and in Washington DC, Kurt Volker, Former US Ambassador to NATO and CEO of the McCain Institute for International Leadership.
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