U.S General warns China may ‘take advantage’ of Ukraine crisis

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Feb 16, 2022: According to a report by AFP, China may take advantage of the Ukraine crisis and do something “provocative” in Asia while Western powers are focused on defusing tensions with Russia, a U.S general warned Wednesday.

“From the standpoint of will China see what’s happening in Europe and… try to do something here in the Indo-Pacific — absolutely yes, that’s a concern,” General Kenneth Wilsbach, head of U.S Pacific Air Forces, said while speaking with press on the sidelines of the Singapore airshow. “It won’t be surprising if they tried something that may be provocative, and see how the international community reacts.”

Wilsbach noted that China had aligned itself with Russia in the crisis, raising questions about own intentions in Asia. Russia’s deployment of more than 100,000 troops on the Ukrainian border has raised concerns in Washington and other Western capitals.

The General said that when Beijing expressed Russia’s support for the Ukraine standoff, it discussed its implications with its staff and other “institutions” in the region. Based in Hawaii, Wilsbach’s command will play a central role in the event of a conflict in the Pacific. Over the years, Beijing has been blamed for creating tensions in the region as it has permanently strengthened control of key islands and atolls in the South China Sea.

Beijing claims almost the entire ocean, but it overlaps with Taiwan and four Southeast Asian nations – Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam. Although the U.S and other Western nations have no claims, they fear Chinese control will violate freedom of navigation in strategic waterways.

In recent months, China has also stepped up pressure on Taiwan – which it considers its territory – by sending fighter jets to the island’s air defense identification zone. Wilsbach said that when China sees crises, it considers whether “this is an opportunity for gain.”

Refusing to go into specifics about what China might do during the Ukraine crisis, saying only that there were “probably a number of options” for Beijing.

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