Just two weeks after Russian fighter jets showed their disdain for open sea lanes and operational safety by flying within 30 feet of a U.S. Navy destroyer, China has sent a comparable message. The Chinese rejected a routine request by the Americans for a Hong Kong port visit by the carrier battle group John Stennis. The aircraft carrier and its support ships are just completing a patrol of the South China Sea, where the Chinese are building artificial islands in a heavily criticized territory grab.

The Chinese rebuke to the Americans is disturbing on several levels. The most basic is that China’s claims in the South China Sea seem headed for a pointed confrontation that may indeed become explosive. That is the assessment of one of the most knowledgeable commentators on the region, retired Navy Captain Jerry Hendrix, who is a senior fellow and the director of the Defense Strategies and Assessments Program at the Center for a New American Security. READ MORE