Trump’s risky nose-to-nose challenge to China in the South China Sea (opinion)

Two strike groups of aircraft carriers led by USS Ronald Reagan and USS Nimitz moved to the South China Sea for the largest military exercises in years just as China held its own exercises around Paracel Island, which it seized from Vietnam in 1974 in the move was never accepted by the United States.
In fact, there is considerable concern in the region that China has used international, especially American, preoccupation with the Covid-19 pandemic to amplify your presence on large parts of the islands of Paracel and Spratly and artificial islands built for apparently military purposes. Since China has largely brought control under the influence of Covid-19, it has managed to focus its views more directly on this region, which Beijing considers central to its own security. This did not escape American and regional military leaders, as well as Trump, who wanted to portray himself as a Chinese falcon, especially on television attack ads Joe Biden accuses his Democratic challenger of being soft on China.
China, for its part, denies having had new designs on huge island groups scattered over thousands of square miles in its coastal waters. “Nothing supports the claim that China is using Covid-19 to expand its presence in the South China Sea,” Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi told reporters in May.
Ironically, this is not the first time Trump has tried to use a strike group of planes to intimidate an Asian force. In April 2017, in an effort to send a fever to the backbone of North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, the president inflated one of his favorite interlocutors, Maria Bartiromo of Fox Business, “We’re sending an armada. Very strong.” into the waters off North Korea, and then elaborated: “He [Kim] works wrong. He’s making a big mistake. “The only problem was that at that point, the American group Carl Vinson was sailing in the exact opposite direction, embarked on joint exercises with the Australian Navy in the Indian Ocean, 3,500 miles away. Eventually the “armada” turned.
Paracel they include more than 130 small coral islands and reefs scattered over about 5,800 square miles, with a total natural land area of ​​just under three square miles. Together with Spratly Islands, they not only represent valuable strategic locations, but dominate one of the most important shipping routes on which they travel frequently in the world, but also sit on top or at the brink of at least 190 trillion cubic meters of natural gas and 11 billion barrels of crude oil, with another projected 160 trillion cubic meters of natural gas and 12 billion barrels of oil still undiscovered.
China has already made large investments in the construction of military settlements, even tourist resorts, occasionally, but in all cases designed to consolidate its share in the region. On Woody Island, The largest in Paracele, at least a thousand Chinese live along a 9,000-foot runway and launch site for 250-mile anti-ship cruise missiles, particularly the deadly YJ-12B anti-ship cruise missiles. In 2017, a colorful art display entitled “The Chinese Dream: The Paracel Archipelago – The Future Development of Woody Island” was shown. greatly enlarged island with skyscrapers, a parkland and a passenger jet preparing to land on an extended runway with two runways. Pentagon report from May 2019 identifies at least eight “busy Chinese” with 60 other potential outposts in the Spratlys alone.
Such is the future of the region that other states border and lay quite a justified request to these islands – Vietnam, Cambodia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Indonesia and Brunei – have long been trying to curb. Because Japan and Taiwan, especially Australia and Singapore, have a significant interest in maintaining the free flow of shipping through the region, they support U.S. efforts to challenge China in the region and uphold the letter and spirit of international law.
But rarely do two superpowers find themselves in such close military proximity with significant naval forces than this week. “Purpose [of the planned exercises] is to show an unequivocal signal to our partners and allies that we are committed to regional security and stability, “said Rear Admiral George Wikoff, commander of the operation, adding that the maneuvers will include” non-stop flights, testing the extraordinary capability of a carrier-based aircraft. “Indeed, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo tweeted a week before the exercises opened, “China is not allowed to treat SCS [South China Sea] as its maritime kingdom. “A spokesman for the fleet confirmed that these exercises had been planned for a long time and had not responded to global events. China itself had begun five days of exercise near Paracels on Wednesday.
In the past, major U.S. operations in the region have had little deterrent effect on Chinese activities or Beijing’s tireless effort to build, strengthen, and staff military facilities across island groups. At the same time, China has progressed through its own efforts to build a navy capable of challenging U.S. dominance over the Pacific, while cementing its stakes over the South China Sea. Andrew S. Erickson of Naval War War College, one of the leading U.S. experts on the Chinese navy, testified to Congress about China’s naval force, which includes advanced weapons and anti-ship missiles that could bring these American aircraft carriers early into any battle.

The central question is how directly the U.S. wants to challenge China, which is clearly determined to take over the region by force of arms, threatening an accidental conflict that could escalate quickly, even catastrophically. Earlier in his presidency, Trump declared his ability to negotiate even the worst international problem. But today, fighting for its political life in an election where most polls show it is going badly, there seems to be no interest in negotiating any peace agreement with China in the region or guaranteed free passage of ships of all nationalities through and within the South China Sea. A concept that the heir has nothing more to prove may be ready to explore.

See also  'The Greatest Game': Finland and the Dream 'In Your Hands'

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *