The Chinese response to a U.S. freedom of navigation operation in the South China Sea highlighted the premise behind the department's 2022 China Military Power Report released today.
The cruiser USS Chancellorsville sailed in the South China Sea near the Spratly Islands. Chinese authorities claimed the Navy ship violated China's sovereignty by sailing in an area long understood to be international waters.
Pentagon Press Secretary Air Force Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder noted that when Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III met his Chinese counterpart Gen. Wei Fenghe in Cambodia last week, he "emphasized the need to responsibly manage competition and maintain open lines of communication. Secretary Austin also affirmed that the U.S. will continue to fly, sail and operate wherever international law allows."
The USS Chancellorsville conducted the operation asserting navigational rights and freedoms under international law. "I know that there has been some reporting that China essentially ejected our ship from the area," Ryder said. "That is not true. Again, we will continue to sail, fly and operate wherever international law allows."
The China Military Report details Chinese strategy, aims and capabilities. "This congressionally mandated report serves as an authoritative assessment of DOD's pacing challenge and the current course of [China's] military and security strategy," the press secretary said. "The report plays a vital role in informing our understanding of our pacing challenge, and it shows again why the national defense strategy is laser-focused on the right issues and on the operational concepts, capabilities and resources we need today and into the future."
Ryder also said Austin asked Congress to finalize and pass the National Defense Authorization Act by the end of the year. "At a time when the United States faces challenges from China and an acute threat from Russia, it's essential that the DOD has the authorities needed to defend the nation, deter our adversaries and support a lethal, resilient and healthy joint force," the general said. "The department will continue to work closely with Congress on this important requirement."