Officials said several sailors aboard the USS Connecticut were injured in the crash. According to a statement from the US Pacific Fleet, none of the injuries were life-threatening. It is not clear what would have struck the Seawolf-class submarine while submerged.
“The submarine is in a safe and stable condition. The nuclear propulsion plant and location of the USS Connecticut have not been affected and are fully operational,” the statement said. “The incident will be investigated.” The US Navy did not specify whether the incident took place in the South China Sea, only that it took place in international waters in the Indo-Pacific.
Connecticut was operating in the waters around the South China Sea as the US and its allies were conducting a major multinational display of force in the area led by the United Kingdom’s Carrier Strike Group 21. The ongoing operation saw the exercise with ships from the US, UK, Japan, Australia, Canada and the Netherlands, comprising three aircraft carriers, training in and around the South China Sea.
On Saturday, 39 Chinese military aircraft, including fighter jets and transport aircraft, entered Taiwan’s ADIZ, forcing the Taiwanese air force to scramble jets and deploy air defense missiles to monitor the aircraft. Two days later, China sent 56 aircraft to Taiwan’s ADIZ within 24 hours, the highest number since the self-governing island began publicly issuing such numbers last year.
“We are deeply concerned by the PRC’s provocative military activity near Taiwan,” US Secretary of State Tony Blinken told reporters at a news conference in Paris on Wednesday when asked about Chinese activity. “As we said, the activity is destabilizing. It risks miscalculation and has the potential to undermine regional peace and stability. Therefore, we seek to prevent our military, diplomatic and economic pressure and coercion directed at Taiwan from Beijing. strongly urge you to.”
Taiwan warns China may invade by 2025
On Wednesday, Taiwan’s defense minister, Chiu Kuo-cheng, said China may be ready to launch a “full-scale” invasion of the island by 2025, adding that “they currently have the capability to attack”. , but they should “pay the price.”
The Biden administration has shifted the focus of US national security policy away from the wars of the past two decades to Beijing, which has established itself in the region and on the world stage. On Thursday, the Central Intelligence Agency announced the creation of a new mission center for China after a month-long review that found China to be the biggest long-term threat to the United States.
A day earlier, National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan met with a high-ranking Chinese official in Switzerland in what a senior administration official called a “clear, direct and comprehensive discussion”.
The meeting, which the official said had a “different tone” than an acrimonious meeting between Sullivan and his Chinese counterpart six months ago, sets the stage for a virtual meeting between President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping later this year. prepared. ensure stability.
But in principle, the meeting agreement between the two leaders did nothing to reduce existing friction in the region, nor did it reduce friction around the South China Sea, where China built bases on reefs and artificial islands. A series has been made. disputed waterway
Pentagon spokesman John Sappel accused China of such actions on Thursday, saying, “Our support and defense relationship with Taiwan is against the current threat posed by the People’s Republic of China.”
As relations between the US and China soured, the State Department requested in June 2018 that US marines be sent to Taiwan to help protect the de facto US embassy there. At the time, according to Defense Department staff records, there were only 10 US troops in Taiwan, and only one was from the Marine Corps, the branch of the military in charge of protecting the embassy. The number gradually increased to 19 soldiers two years later, before jumping to 32 soldiers earlier this year, records show. Similarly, the number of US troops in China has increased from 14 in 2018 to 55 now, the majority of whom are Marines.
“The US defense relationship with Taiwan is guided by the Taiwan Relations Act and is based on an assessment of Taiwan’s defense needs and the threat posed by the PRC, as has been the case for more than 40 years,” Supple said.
The comments are part of a series of escalating rhetorical attacks between the two superpowers, which Pentagon officials call a “great power contest.”
Earlier this week, China criticized the US for “irresponsible remarks” after the US condemned Chinese military flights into the ADIZ of Taiwan. “In recent days, the United States has continued its negative actions in selling arms to Taiwan and enhancing its official military ties between the United States and Taiwan,” said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying.
Correction: This story has been updated with the correct name of Taiwan’s Air Defense Identification Area and to clarify that the United Kingdom’s Carrier Strike Group 21 is leading the force’s demonstration in the area.
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