Asia-Pacific News

Collision of USS John S. McCain is met with 'applause' in China, according to state media

Key Points
  • USS John S. McCain's collision with a merchant ship was met with "applause from Chinese netizens," a Beijing mouthpiece says
  • U.S. Navy has behaved "arrogantly" in Asia-Pacific, lacking respect for huge merchant ships, the Global Times claims
Collision of USS John S. McCain is met with 'applause' in China, according to state media

The collision at sea that left 10 U.S. Navy sailors missing on Monday was met with "applause from Chinese netizens," according to an unsigned editorial that ran in Beijing state media.

The USS John S. McCain collided with a tanker on Monday in heavily trafficked waters near Singapore. The hyper-nationalist Global Times claimed the Chinese reaction "reflects the sentiment of Chinese society toward the activities of the U.S. Navy in the South China Sea."

The South China Sea is a vast body of water that contains some of the world's busiest shipping lanes. Beijing claims most of the sea as its own, even portions that extend about 1,000 miles from Chinese shores. The United States and several Asian countries dispute those claims.

Monday's accident east of Singapore and the Strait of Malacca came after another Navy ship, the USS Fitzgerald, was in a collision off the coast of Japan in June. That warship hit a container vessel.

10 sailors missing after USS John S. McCain collides with 600-foot tanker

U.S. Navy ships have been involved in four accidents in Asian waters this year, including three collisions and one ship that ran aground.

"The two severe collisions within two months show that the U.S. Navy's combat readiness level and military management level have both declined," said the Global Times.

The newspaper added, however, that the "missing and injured U.S. sailors deserve sympathy."

Commentaries in state Chinese media are widely followed for insight into government thinking.

US Navy 'behaved arrogantly'

The Global Times said the U.S. Pacific Command is not working to avoid collisions in the South China Sea. "Its activities only aim at putting China in check," the editorial said.

"U.S. warships are constantly involved in accidents around the South China Sea. On the one hand, the U.S. Navy has behaved arrogantly in the Asia-Pacific region. It lacks respect for huge merchant ships and fails to take evasive action in time, thus resulting in serious accidents," it added.

On the other hand, U.S. warships also patrol the region "too frequently."

Meanwhile, Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said at a scheduled press conference on Monday that China is "concerned about the threat and hidden danger posed by the relevant incident to the safety of navigation in the South China Sea and relevant waters. We hope that the relevant issue can be handled properly."

The U.S. Navy announced a fleet-wide investigation and plans temporary halts in operations to focus on safety.

The navies of the United States, Malaysia and Singapore continued their search for the 10 American service members on Tuesday.

Read Global Times' editorial about the USS John S. McCain collision and the U.S. Navy's operations in the South China Sea.

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