China may have targeted a U.S. aircraft carrier with dozens of missiles in the South China Sea days before an arbitration tribunal rejected China’s vast claims to the region, Chinese media indicated.
The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Rocket Force reportedly targeted the USS Ronald Reagan in the South China Sea with “carrier killer” DF-21D anti-ship ballistic missiles a few days before the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague officially discredited China’s nine-dashed line in a landmark ruling this summer, according to DW News, which cited CCTV.
The Philippines unilaterally submitted its dispute with China to an international arbitration tribunal in 2013. The court ruled against China’s claims to the South China Sea July 12, 2016.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi called the arbitration ruling a “political farce under the pretext of law.”
The U.S. and China came very close to conflict because of the South China Sea arbitration case, Chinese media suggested, with CCTV commenting on the “clouds of war.”
Two U.S. carrier groups led by the USS Ronald Reagan and the USS John Stennis were deployed near the Philippines in late June, only a few weeks before the tribunal ruling.
The USS Ronald Reagan, with the other units of Carrier Strike Group 5, the U.S. Navy’s only forward-deployed strike group, conducted patrols in the South China Sea in early July.
These moves were perceived by China as a preparation for conflict. China feared that the U.S. might attempt to enforce the ruling through the use of military force.
China readied its new missiles in response, CCTV indicated.
During this major crisis, the PLA Rocket Force aimed dozens of new missiles at a U.S. aircraft carrier in the South China Sea. The new missiles were most likely the anti-ship DF-21D missiles, DW News commented.
The DF-21D has a range of over 1,200 miles.
Prior to the ruling, from July 5 to July 11, the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) reportedly dispatched three major fleets consisting of one hundred ships and dozens of fighter aircraft to the South China Sea for drills.
De-escalation occurred in the aftermath of the ruling, and China switched to a deterrence stance, reportedly relying on its DF-21D and DF-26 missiles to keep American ships at a distance.
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