FACT CHECK: Global Times Shares Misleading Comic About U.S. Response To China-Russian Flotilla
— Global Times (@globaltimesnews) August 8, 2023
The comment was from an expert, not the U.S. government. The U.S. government said the patrol was “not considered a threat.”
The Global Times, the English newspaper for the Chinese Communist Party-controlled People’s Daily, published a graphic purporting to show the U.S. response to a Chinese-Russian naval patrol that appeared near U.S. waters. It shows the U.S. saying that it is innocent when it “encircles China with military bases,” “sends warships and fighter jets to China’s doorstep,” and “stokes confrontation in the South China Sea.”
“China and Russia perform joint naval patrol in intl waters near Alaska,” the graphic reads, with the U.S. saying it is “highly provocative.”
The comment, though, is not from the U.S. government. Check Your Fact found that the response was from Brett Sadler, a Heritage Foundation senior research fellow and former U.S. naval officer. Sadler told The Wall Street Journal that the patrol was “highly provocative.”
“It is a historical first. Given the context of the war in Ukraine and tensions around Taiwan, this move is highly provocative,” Sadler said to the Wall Street Journal. Sadler confirmed to Check Your Fact that he does not represent the U.S. government.
“Yep, I called the Russian-Chinese naval exercise near Alaska given current world events as ‘highly provocative’ and I do not represent the US Government,” Sadler said. (RELATED: Pentagon Claims Last Time U.S. Used Cluster Munitions Was In 2003)
The U.S. responded to the patrol by shadowing it with four destroyers and P-8 aircraft, according to The Wall Street Journal. A spokesperson for the U.S. Northern Command told The Wall Street Journal that the patrol was “not considered a threat.”
“Air and maritime assets under our commands conducted operations to assure the defense of the United States and Canada. The patrol remained in international waters and was not considered a threat,” the spokesman said.
The White House referred Check Your Fact to the Department of Defense. A State Department spokesperson also referred Check Your Fact to the Department of Defense but said, “The Department of Defense is monitoring the situation closely and has conducted operations as appropriate given the activity. As our DoD colleagues have said, the PRC and Russian patrol was not considered a threat.”
A Department of Defense spokesperson pointed Check Your Fact to remarks made by Brigadier General Pat Ryder during an August 7 press briefing.
“Yeah, so I’ll let the Chinese and the Russians characterize their activities. And what I would say is that NORAD and NORTHCOM monitored their presence. They were in international waters. At no point in time were they deemed to pose a threat. And so like any country, they are free to conduct exercises in international airspace, international waters,” Ryder said.
China claims nearly all of the South China Sea, including parts that reside in the economic exclusion zones (EEZ) of other countries, such as the Philippines and Vietnam, according to the Council on Foreign Relations. The U.S. Navy has sent warships on what it calls “freedom of navigation operations” near Chinese-claimed islands in the South China Sea, such as one in June near Mischief Reef, and says that China regularly violates the Law of the Sea Convention by fortifying said islands in territory claimed by other countries, CNN reported.
“Features like Mischief Reef that are submerged at high tide in their naturally formed state are not entitled to a territorial sea. The land reclamation efforts, installations, and structures built on Mischief Reef do not change this characterization under international law,” the U.S 7th Fleet said in a statement at the time, according to CNN.
Check Your Fact reached out to the Global Times for comment and will update this article if a response is provided.