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The eventuality that Beijing has to prepare for is close at hand. The delayed US-South Korean naval exercise in the Yellow Sea is now slated for mid-July. According to media reports, a nuclear-powered US aircraft carrier has left its Japanese base and is headed for the drill area.
In their recent responses, several high-ranking Chinese navy officials have made it plain that China will not stay in "hands-off" mode as the drill gets underway. For that will make the US believe that China's defense circle on the sea is small, and, therefore, US fleets will be able to freely cruise over the Yellow Sea, East China Sea and South China Sea in the future.
Military experts have warned that if the joint drill really takes place off the western coast of South Korea, Chinese airplanes and warships will very likely go all the way out to closely watch the war game maneuvers. Within such proximity on not-so-clearly-marked international waters, any move that is considered hostile to the other side can willy-nilly trigger a rash reaction, which might escalate into the unexpected or the unforeseen.
One false move, one wrong interpretation, is all it would take for the best-planned exercises to go awry.