George Galloway has warned that war could imminently break out between China and the US after Beijing took an unprecedented and “decisive military move” that has stunned American officials. The former British MP told RT that a sudden military confrontation “could blow up” in the South China Sea, which has been a hotly contested region for decades. Earlier this week, a US Navy guided-missile destroyer sailed through waters near the Paracel Islands in the South China Sea, challenging China’s contested claim to the area.
According to the Navy, the US sought to assert the “rights, freedoms and lawful uses of the sea recognized in international law”.
However, the Chinese military struck back at the provocative move, as People’s Liberation Army (PLA) mobilised warships and aeroplanes to track and warn the US vessel away from “Chinese territorial waters”.
The US military responded on Thursday with another show of force with carrying out a sortie over the contested waters with two Air Force bombers.
Beijing’s state newspaper has accused the US of aggressively intervening in the region despite the coronavirus pandemic.
The PLA followed this up by accussing the United States of “provocative acts” that “seriously violated international law and China’s sovereignty and security interests”.
They added that the US move was “incompatible with the current joint efforts of the international community to fight against the COVID-19”.
This week, the US State Department criticised China for taking advantage of the region’s focus on the coronavirus pandemic to “coerce its neighbours”.
Mr Galloway compared the current tensions to the ongoing escalation in the Persian Gulf, where President Donald Trump has threatened to “shoot down and destroy” any Iranian gunboats that harass Navy ships.
China has long laid claim to the entire South China Sea, which is said to harbour valuable deposits of oil and gas.
However, the Paracels are also claimed by Vietnam and Taiwan, while other parts of the sea are claimed by the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei.
The move came amid a rise in US-China tensions over the coronavirus pandemic.
The White House has accused Beijing of covering up the initial outbreak in the Chinese city of Wuhan.
On Wednesday, President Trump suggested China was interfering in US politics to make him lose in the November presidential elections.