The Jinggangshan, a 689-foot-long warship, has just cleared the Suez Canal and is now patrolling the eastern Mediterranean. Unconfirmed reports place other Chinese vessels in the area.
Beijing says its ships are heading to Syria’s coast merely to “observe” American and Russian vessels, but a less benign interpretation is that the Jinggangshan is there to augment the Russian fleet and intimidate the US Navy. This sleek-looking Chinese amphibious-landing vessel can carry a battalion of marines and was used earlier this year to stare down the smaller nations surrounding the South China Sea, an area Beijing is trying to close off to other countries.
Each day brings new reports of warships converging on the eastern Mediterranean. US ships are now backed up by French and Italian ones and face the Russian and Chinese navies.