A Strategic Signal?
The Global Times recently posted a fiery editorial, accusing the US of preparing a drone attack on the islands claimed by China as its own in the South China Sea. On those islands, the Asian Giant has built airfields and other military facilities. “China will shoot down incoming US fighter jets, no matter whether they are unmanned or manned,” wrote the Global Times. Quoting the concerned authorities in Beijing, the broadsheet added: “If those planes cause actual damage to the Chinese islands and reefs, we will strike the platforms and bases from which those planes take off. The Nansha Islands have only a small number of defensive weapons. If they are attacked, those islands would henceforth need to be turned into a fully operational military base to counter any serious threat to them.”
The editorial – posted on September 24, 2020 – was published after receiving inputs from Air Force Magazine. Earlier, the Magazine had published a report on a joint US Air Force-Navy Exercise off the coast of California where the Air Force’s MQ-9 Reaper drones were employed in a maritime role for the first time. The article, titled ‘With an Eye on China, Reaper Drones Train for Maritime War’, was boldly illustrated with an image of a row of five airmen, wearing a patch on their right shoulders and showing a Reaper drone superimposed over a map of China coloured in red. “This is an extremely arrogant provocation,” the Global Times declared in its editorial. The Chinese daily further said: “The last time the US Air Force put a country on the patch was during the Vietnam War. Putting a map of China on patches, is a radical move, and publishing the picture, obviously the US military wants to send a strong signal.”
The Global Times editorial has been preceded by a Twitter posting by its Editor-in-Chief Hu Xijin in which he claimed that “Based on information I learned, the Trump Government could take the risk to attack China’s islands in the South China Sea with MQ-9 Reaper drones to aid his re-election campaign. If it happens, the PLA will definitely fight back fiercely and let those, who start the war, pay a heavy price.”
The Chinese broadsheet continued: “Washington is stepping up its war preparations against China, and drones, which have been involved in assassination and other attacks around the world, will also play a major role. This is the strategic signal sent by the US Air Force Magazine’s report on the MQ-9 Reaper drone.” In the editorial, the Global Times mentioned: “This is a move to further stir hostilities between Chinese and American societies and an extortion against China. The US military is using the drones and patches to stimulate the imagination and to create images of China and the US going to a war. It’s also a move to mobilise public opinion.”
Boundless Ocean of Politics has received this article from Christopher Lewis of the Schiller Institute, Frankfurt, Germany.
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