‘Let us meet in the sky’: US-China tensions escalate with remarks from military leaders

Tensions between China and the United States have escalated in recent months, as evidenced by a recent military challenge.

According to reports, one Chinese military commander has called for a meeting “in the sky” with American troops following the U.S. Air Force’s recent vow to “scare China.”

“A lot of work to do”

The exchange marks the latest saber-rattling between officials in D.C. and Beijing and came from People’s Liberation Army Air Force Commander Wang Wei during that nation’s largest air show.

He addressed remarks from a “counterpart” from “a major country” who “claims that he wants to scare China.”

Wang’s reference was clearly to U.S. Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall, who recently said that the U.S. must retire old aircraft and develop new equipment to “scare China” as Beijing modernizes its military force.

Kendall told Defense News that he is “obsessed” with China’s “military modernization” and believes that America “has a lot of work to do” in keeping pace.

“They’re moving faster than I might have anticipated,” he said.

For his part, Wang seemed confident in his nation’s military might. “I can only say, if they are not scared, let us meet in the sky,” the Chinese military leader said of the U.S. challenge.

“Capable and confident”

As the Zhuhai air show highlighted, China is investing heavily in advanced military technology. One PLA spokesperson noted that a new fighter jet with a Chinese engine made its debut at the event.

Wang further warned that China’s naval forces can handle any act of U.S. aggression at sea, stating: “The Chinese navy is capable and confident to ensure national security and defend integrity as well as make a contribution to world peace.”

Threats of military escalation have swirled around recent actions in the Pacific, particularly as the United States carries out “freedom of navigation” missions counteracting China’s territorial ambitions in the South China Sea. Such provocations have angered Beijing even as the two nations are also at odds over other issues, including China’s claim on Taiwan.

America recently entered into a military compact with Australia that would provide that nation with nuclear-powered submarines, which prompted China to warn of an “arms race.” In a recent propaganda video, the Chinese military sought to back up its tough talk with a depiction of “nuclear-capable H-6 bombers” capable of attacking a U.S. airbase in Guam.

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