China says US increasing military activity directed at it

FILE - In this April 23, 2019, file photo, the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) Navy aircraft carrier Liaoning participates in a naval parade to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the founding of China's PLA Navy in the sea near Qingdao in eastern China's Shandong province. China says it is holding naval drills involving the battlegroup of the aircraft carrier Liaoning in waters near Taiwan. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein, Pool, File)
FILE - In this April 23, 2019, file photo, the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) Navy aircraft carrier Liaoning participates in a naval parade to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the founding of China's PLA Navy in the sea near Qingdao in eastern China's Shandong province. China says it is holding naval drills involving the battlegroup of the aircraft carrier Liaoning in waters near Taiwan. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein, Pool, File) (Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

BEIJING – Activity by U.S. military ships and surveillance planes directed at China has increased significantly under President Joe Biden's administration, a spokesperson for the Chinese Defense Ministry said Thursday.

As an example, Wu Qian said the Navy destroyer USS Mustin recently conducted close-in observation of the Chinese aircraft carrier Liaoning and its battle group.

That had “seriously interfered with the Chinese side’s training activities and seriously threatened the safety of navigation and personnel on the both sides,” Wu said. The ship was warned to leave and a formal protest was filed with the U.S., he said.

Activity by U.S. military ships was up 20% and by planes 40% in Chinese-claimed areas since Biden took office in January over the same period last year, Wu said.

“The U.S. frequently dispatches ships and planes to operate in seas and airspace near China, promoting regional militarization and threatening regional peace and stability," Wu said at a monthly briefing held virtually.

China routinely objects to the U.S. military presence in the South China Sea, which it claims almost in its entirety, as well as the passage of Navy ships through the Taiwan Strait.

The country recently marked the 20th anniversary of the collision between a U.S. surveillance plane and a Chinese navy fighter near the Chinese island province of Hainan that resulted in the Chinese pilot's death. He was called a hero who sacrificed himself for the defense of the motherland. The U.S. says its plane was in international airspace and the accident was the result of reckless flying by the Chinese side.

Wu also blasted moves to beef up monitoring of Chinese aircraft movements by Taiwan, the self-governing island democracy claimed by China as its own territory, to be annexed by force if necessary.