US has ramped up reconnaissance in Chinese-claimed waters, says Beijing

The United States has ramped up reconnaissance activities near China’s coast under 

Joe Biden

’s administration, leading to a recent close encounter between the country’s warships, Beijing warned on Thursday after the American president 

defined their rivalry as the battle of the century

 between democracy and autocracy.

On the day that Biden targeted Beijing in his first speech to a joint session of Congress, Chinese defence ministry spokesman Wu Qian said operations had increased by more than 20 per cent for US warships and 40 per cent for planes in and around waters claimed by China, compared with the same period last year under Donald Trump’s administration.

Wu said at a monthly press conference that the increase was “destabilising” and had led to a close encounter in early April when the guided-missile destroyer USS Mustin had to be warned away as it conducted a “close-up reconnaissance” of the Chinese aircraft carrier Liaoning and its battle group.

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