While President Trump focuses on trade and North Korea, China is aggressively building military outposts beyond its borders in the South China Sea. Beijing wants to get Washington out of the Indo-Pacific, and Trump's Administration and Congress may finally be developing a serious strategy to respond.
Trillions of trade dollars annually float across the Indo-Pacific, stretching from East Africa to East Asia. In recent years, China has built military bases on artificial islands hundreds of miles from its shores, ignoring international law and a 2016 ruling by a United Nations tribunal.
Accumulation has accelerated in recent weeks as China deployed anti-ship missiles, surface air-to-air missiles and electronic blockers on the Spratly Islands and even nuclear-capable bombers on nearby Woody Island. This violates an explicit promise that the Chinese president
in 2015, "China does not intend to seek militarization" in the Spratlys.
The next step could be the deployed forces. At that time, "China will be able to extend its influence thousands of miles to the south and project its power deep into Oceania," the admiral said.
who leads the US Indo-Pacific Command UU., Said in April.
In view of the accumulation of China, the United States has shown an unequal compromise. Mr. Obama limited freedom of navigation patrols to avoid a confrontation and never compromised the resources to realize his "pivot to Asia". China saw Obama's hesitation and kept moving forward. The growing concern is that China will begin to dictate the terms of shipping to the world and force weaker neighbors to accept its foreign policy and trade objectives.
Secretary of Defense
lately he has been putting this concern at the center. He recently rescinded an invitation to the Chinese Navy to participate in the Rimpac multinational exercises against Hawaii this summer. And at the annual Shangri-La security dialogue in Singapore this weekend, Mr. Mattis said that "the location of these weapons systems is directly related to military use for intimidation and coercion purposes."
He noted the cancellation of Rimpac as a "minor consequence" of this behavior and said there could be "major consequences", although not specified, in the future.
One of these consequences could be the most frequent and regular freedom of navigation operations within the territorial territory of 12 nautical miles claimed by China. Joint operations with the allies would have an even greater deterrent effect, and the US UU They should encourage others to join. Beijing will try to punish any country that sails with the United States, but that will highlight the coercive nature of its plans. [CréameonoelCongresotambiénestátratandodeayudarconlaLeydeIniciativadeReasegurodeAsia(ARIAporsussiglaseninglés)bipartidariaElproyectodeleydelSenadoratificalasalianzasprincipalesdeEstadosUnidosconAustraliaJapónyCoreadelSuraltiempoquepidelazosmilitaresyeconómicosmásprofundosconIndiayTaiwánEnparticularfomentalaventaregulardearmasaTaipei
The bill authorizes $ 1.5 billion a year for five years to fund regular military exercises and improve defenses throughout the region. It also funds the fight against the terrorist groups of Southeast Asia, including the Islamic State. This will help, but more will be needed. The increase in military spending of $ 61 billion this year was more infill than accumulation, and China recently increased its defense budget by 8.1%.
ARIA also tries to address Mr. Trump's main strategic error of withdrawing from the Transpac Partnership trade agreement, which does not include China. The Senate bill gives the president the power to negotiate new bilateral and multilateral trade agreements.
It also requires the export of liquefied natural gas to the Indo-Pacific and authorizes the United States Trade Representative to negotiate an agreement with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Yes I know. UU Had a commercial representative who believed in the trade, this could strengthen the relationship of EE. UU With Vietnam and the countries of the Philippines in disagreement with China for their territorial claims and militarism.
The project has the backing of the Republicans
which is a broad ideological network. The rise of China and Mr. Xi's determination to turn China into the dominant power in the Indo-Pacific is a generational challenge that will require a lasting and bipartisan strategy and commitment. A firmer stance to deter Chinese military expansionism is an essential beginning.