ANALYSIS-China, U.S. playing risky game on the high seas

Tue Aug 17, 2010 6:32am GMT

* China has growing blue water fleet, U.S. adding ships

* Lack of communication between Chinese, U.S. navies

* China more assertive in making maritime claims

By Ben Blanchard

BEIJING, Aug 17 (Reuters) - The game of military bluff that China and the United States are playing off the Chinese coast could erupt in full-fledged crisis hitting the arteries of global trade if Pentagon worries about missteps ever come true.

China has been investing big slices of its growing wealth in modernising its military, and turning its once creaky navy into a blue water fleet that can project power far from its shores, with nuclear submarines and, maybe one day, aircraft carriers.

China is sending naval vessels further afield, to the waters off Somalia to fight pirates, and most recently through the southern Japanese islands, to Tokyo's angst.

That also worries Washington, the world's dominant power, which keeps a hefty military presence in the Asia-Pacific.

While war between the two economically intertwined powers remains a remote possibility, the Pentagon warned on Monday of risks of "misunderstanding and miscalculation" getting out of hand in this trade-driven part of the world plied by thousands of ships daily carrying cargo and oil.   Continued...

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