12/18/2020, 17.03
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US sending more ships to the Indo-Pacific where the risks of a war with China are growing

Washington is moving to counter Beijing's “expansionist” approach. The South China Sea is the hottest frontline. For US experts, the US is trying to prevent China from gaining immediate benefits while preparing to fight a long-term conflict. The Chinese are training to invade Taiwan, which is boosting its own defences. Japan is also hard at protecting itself from the Asian juggernaut.

 

Hong Kong (AsiaNews) – In the coming years, US naval forces will be more “assertive” in opposing China in the Indo-Pacific, this according to a paper released yesterday by the Pentagon.

The document identifies the South China Sea as the hottest theatre for future operations in Asia by the US Navy, Marines and Coast Guard. According to several observers, such a scenario increases the risk of a conflict between the two powers.

Beijing claims sovereignty over almost the entire South China Sea, but faces the opposition of several countries in the region, which have the backing of the United States.

For the US military, China is adopting an expansionist approach in the South China Sea and seeking to establish regional hegemony through programmes such as the Belt and Road Initiative.

The main charge against Beijing is that it is systematically violating international law of the sea.

Despite the coronavirus pandemic, the United States has stepped up its maritime operations in the South China Sea. In August, a US Navy ship came close to an incident with the Chinese Navy near the Paracel Islands.

According to experts, two warships “accidentally” colliding might be the spark that sets the fuse of conflict between the two powers.

For Harvard University professor Graham Allison, war might break out between an emerging power like China and a declining one like the United States (the so-called “Thucydides trap”).

The surge in US naval operations in the Western Pacific is a response to those US political and academic circles that are calling for action to prevent Beijing from gaining immediate geopolitical gains.

This is happening as the US prepares to confront China until the end of the century, on the model of the confrontation it won with the Soviets.

This is where Taiwan comes in. Recently, China’s state-owned CCTV broadcast a documentary showing a mock battle with tanks during a possible invasion of the island.

Taiwan is considered by Beijing a “rebel” province, and on several occasion Chinese leaders have not ruled out the use of force to retake it.

In order to be able to send troops and armoured vehicles on Taiwan, Beijing has invested time and resources in recent years to boost its landing forces.

Taipei has responded by building eight modern submarines and a fleet of corvettes that would be pitted against Chinese aircraft carriers and amphibious vehicles. Taiwan’s government has also obtained the green light from the United States for the purchase of strategic weapons worth billions of dollars.

Despite recent attempts at mending diplomatic fences, territorial disputes also keep alive the possibility of a conflict between China and Japan (another US ally).

Tokyo announced today that it is developing a new anti-ship missile model capable of hitting targets at a very long range.

Such a weapon would be used against any attack from China against the Okinawa Islands, as well as the uninhabited Japanese-administered Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea, which Beijing also claims (known as Diaoyu in China).

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