A military stand-off and any exchange of fire would be the worst-case scenario, they say.
Defence News' Asia bureau chief Wendell Minnick said while it is very unlikely, the possibility of "a Chinese commander firing an anti-ship missile and having things escalate from there" cannot be ruled out. "The nationalistic fervour is so great right now that you're not sure how far that might push a commander."
The reaction of the Chinese navy also remains a huge source of uncertainty as it has not been observed in combat before, Mr Minnick noted, adding that the Sino-US crisis management mechanism meant to avoid unwanted clashes can also be improved... China is likely to use "swarming tactics" rather than a direct military confrontation, Mr Minnick said. This means sending Chinese fishing boats and coast guard vessels to harass the US ships while the Chinese navy watches at a distance, Beijing's usual tactic. He said: "But the US military can't do this forever. It is likely to demonstrate its physical presence, then slack off before bringing it back during a crisis."More at Asia One.
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