- Russia’s deployment of more than 100,000 troops on the border with Ukraine has sparked fear in the US and other western capitals.
- US Pacific Air Forces general notes that China’s alignment with Russia in Ukraine crisis raises questions about its intentions in Asia
- Says, “It won’t be surprising if they try something that can be provocative.
SINGAPORE: China could take advantage of the crisis in Ukraine and do something “provocative” in Asia as Western powers focus on easing tensions with Russia, a US general warned on Wednesday.
Russia’s deployment of more than 100,000 troops on the border with Ukraine has sparked fears in Washington and other western capitals of an imminent invasion.
General Kenneth Wilsbach, the head of the US Pacific Air Forces, noted that China had joined Russia in the crisis, raising questions about its own intentions in Asia.
“From the standpoint of China, will see what’s happening in Europe and… try to do something here in the Indo-Pacific — absolutely yes, that’s a concern,” Wilsbach said, using an alternate term for the Asia region. -Pacific.
“I have concerns that they might want to take advantage of this,” he added, speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the Singapore Airshow.
“It won’t be surprising if they try something that can be provocative and see how the international community reacts.”
Wilsbach said that when Beijing expressed its support for Russia in the standoff in Ukraine, it held talks with its staff and other “entities” in the region about its implications.
Wilsbach’s command, based in Hawaii, would play a pivotal role if conflict erupts in the Pacific.
Over the years, Beijing has been blamed for fueling tensions in the region as it has steadily strengthened control over the main islands and atolls in the South China Sea.
Beijing claims almost the entire sea, but that overlaps that of Taiwan and four Southeast Asian countries – Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam.
While the United States and other Western countries have no claims there, they fear that Chinese control would violate freedom of navigation on the strategic waterway.
In recent months, China has also stepped up pressure on Taiwan, which it considers its territory, by sending fighter jets into the island’s air defense zone.
Wilsbach said that when China looks at crises, it considers whether “this is an opportunity for profit.”
He did not go into details about what China could do during the crisis in Ukraine, saying there were “probably some options” for Beijing.