In the weeks leading up to the 2020 election, technology firms and the U.S. government took steps to prevent and combat election interference in cyberspace. READ MORE: World War 3 fears: Australia alarmed over Beijing's agression. China could also declare an air defense identification zone (ADIZ) around the Spratly Islands. For deterrence both by denial and by punishment, the United States will have to credibly demonstrate not only the capability to deny China its objectives or impose costs on China for any military action, but also its willingness to do so. One of China’s main strategies in promoting its claims in the past has been to increase the risks for others exercising their rights by, for example, harassing other countries’ oil and gas exploration platforms, fishing vessels, and military vessels. Along these lines, China’s maritime behavior is likely to change in tandem with an increase in nationalist rhetoric and an improvement in its military capabilities. The latest flashpoint: the vital waterways of the South China Sea. This move resulted in the most significant standoff between China and Vietnam in the last five years, with Chinese and Vietnamese coast guard vessels conducting patrols near each other and the Vietnamese government issuing a statement calling for a halt to China’s activities. If the ongoing trade and technology war, exacerbated by fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic, and increased strategic competition and military tensions in East Asia continue—and if the United States appears to be mounting initiatives to stop further Chinese gains—China could push back in the South China Sea in ways that lead to a military clash. All these actions would demonstrate that the South China Sea is a priority for the United States, thus enhancing the credibility of the U.S. commitment to ensuring these waters remain free and open, even at a cost. Tensions between the United States and China seem to be growing by the day, prompting some in Washington to worry about a potential military conflict between our two countries within the next six months. Accommodating China’s preferences would likely maintain the peace, but it would also weaken the United States’ role as the security partner of choice in the region and likely encourage more Chinese aggression in the future. The US Pacific Air Forces said B-1 bombers conducted a mission in the South China Sea just days after training with the US Navy near Hawaii. God bless you and keep you in His truth. We will use your email address only for sending you newsletters. If China decides the time is right to more aggressively assert its claims, it could do so in three ways, potentially simultaneously. Democrats Stunned as GOP Gains House Seats, Expected to Hold Control of the Senate, Kayleigh McEnany on Next President: 'I Think It's Really Anyone's Guess Where This Goes', 'Perfectly Wounded': Retired Navy SEAL Shot 27 Times Shares How to Build Resiliency. He said: “Obviously, decision makers in the Pentagon are trying to use the bombers as a new tool in its strategic deterrence against China. During a crisis, Washington could maintain open crisis communications with Beijing to avoid unnecessary conflict and miscommunication. by Paul J. Angelo The United States could deter China by undermining its confidence that its actions would succeed. The United States would likely want to avoid a direct conflict with China, making it difficult to carry out a compellent strategy that relies on the credibility of U.S. willingness to escalate. The US Air Force sent two B-1B Lancers for a 32-hour round-trip flight over the South China Sea on April 29. Assistant Professor of Security Studies, Georgetown University's Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service; and Resident Scholar, American Enterprise Institute. November 9, 2020, Blog Post The US Indo-Pacific Command the US Navy had conducted a mine warfare training exercise in the East China Sea. Pompeo is pushing back, accusing China of breaking international law and urging world leaders to standup to Beijing's expanding territorial ambitions. Thus, the United States should protect its allies and the openness of the South China Sea, which is critical for their security and prosperity. “China and the US are entering into a full-fledged competition and the situation is grimmer than the US-Soviet Union Cold War. China’s ability to control this waterway would be a significant step toward displacing the United States from the Indo-Pacific region, expanding its economic influence, and generally reordering the region in its favor. Under the Donald J. Trump administration, the United States has increased the frequency of FONOPs, challenging China’s excessive claims in the area. There are a number of possible indicators of an aggressive turn in China’s strategy. Furthermore, if China establishes control over the South China Sea, it could declare and enforce military exclusion zones, which would disrupt or obstruct international lines of communication and crucial supply chains. "We will see intensified B-1 interference into airspace over the Taiwan Strait and the South China Sea in May.”. The United States could deter China from relying on military power to achieve greater control in the South China Sea by credibly signaling that this would incur prohibitive costs. U.S. FONOPs are an attempt to do this, but they are not enough. The data presented includes violent incidents related to political, economic, and social grievances directed at the state or other affiliated groups (or, conversely, the state employing violence to respond to those incidents.). Strength Through Peace, What to Know About the Afghan Peace Negotiations, Blog Post There could be an uptick in calls from state-owned newspapers for China to exercise its sovereignty by taking military action. Contingency Planning Memorandum No. "China's territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests in the South China Sea are based on sufficient historical and jurisprudential evidence and are in line with the relevant international law and practice," Zhao Lijian, spokesperson with China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, told reporters this week. China could then claim a 200-nautical-mile EEZ outward from these straight baselines. That happened in the last administration," warned Pompeo. China has already declared two new administrative districts in the South China Sea in April 2020 and has escalated its criticism of U.S. freedom of navigation operations (FONOPs) in the area. For example, as China and Russia’s militaries grow closer, China could encourage Russia to support China’s claims by challenging U.S. ships, as Russia did near Philippine waters in June 2019. The United States could use military power to force China to give up any ill-gotten gains. But it takes a lot of hard work, time, and money to do what we do. The United States will have to credibly demonstrate not only the capability to deny China its objectives but also its willingness to do so. U.S. allies and partners, such as Australia, France, and the United Kingdom, would likely challenge China’s attempts to restrict their freedom to navigate in the South China Sea, potentially leading to clashes, crises, and escalation that could bring in the United States. To demonstrate its willingness to escalate, the United States could deploy more assets to the region, too. The U.S. Pacific Fleet could get involved in protecting the freedom of all nations to navigate, regardless of their alliance status, which would escalate the issue and require many resources. For these reasons, the United States should seek ways to prevent Chinese expansion, ideally while avoiding a dangerous confrontation and being prepared to deftly manage any crises should they arise. The deterrence by denial options would likely be the most effective, but they require the security cooperation of other countries to achieve results. In addition, the United States could help countries occupying parts of the South China Sea and improve the quality of their on-island facilities, thereby improving their resiliency in the face of China’s aggression. This type of brinksmanship would put the burden of escalation on the other claimants, perhaps convincing them to disengage from the islands they occupy. The opportunity to press claims without resorting to force could also diminish in the future should Southeast Asian nations become less accommodating of China’s position. China could take measures calculated to change the military balance of power in the South China Sea. If China wishes to ensure strategic surprise, it could hide preparations for military action under the guise of conducting military exercises, which would be hard to detect. Nonetheless, there were still a handful of incidents. © 2020 The Christian Broadcasting Network, Inc., A nonprofit 501 (c)(3) Charitable Organization. Ideally, these measures would be sufficient to deter military escalation that leads to a confrontation. China would likely forward deploy more anti-air and anti-ship capabilities in the form of air-launched cruise missiles or ground-based systems, but it would try to hide such changes. Navy. Currently, China relies largely on shadowing U.S. forces and issuing strongly worded statements when the United States and others conduct FONOPs. Sign up for a morning roundup of news and analysis from around the world. Furthermore, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s friendly posture toward China could become politically unsustainable in the event of an incident at sea that results in the injury or death of Filipino citizens. The continued downward spiral in U.S.-China relations could also encourage Xi to adopt a now-or-never approach to the South China Sea. China has warned of a growing risk of military conflict between the two countries. Backgrounder China could occupy or militarize the Scarborough Shoal—contested territory between China and the Philippines—that the United States has clearly communicated as a redline that could lead to escalation. Li Jie, a military specialist based in Beijing, said the US was trying to keep up strategic deterrence, with the US Air Force conducting 11 flights in March and 13 in April over the Taiwan Strait and South China Sea. Many partners and allies of the United States, such as Japan and South Korea, rely on unfettered access to the South China Sea to trade with the outside world. For any of these initiatives to succeed, however, the United States will need a lasting strategy to deter China’s aggression, to respond if a confrontation does occur, and, if necessary, to defeat China in a military conflict. The U.S. military continues to operate in China’s exclusive economic zones (EEZs), as allowed under international law, despite China’s attempts to exercise control over all military activities within its EEZs. U.S.-China military-to-military exchanges have declined from thirty in 2016 to twelve in 2019 as well, and U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has publicly stated that the United States would come to the Philippines’ aid should any form of a Chinese armed attack occur against Manila. It could establish military access arrangements with regional partners to be implemented in case the crisis escalates. In recent months, Chinese coast guard vessels have behaved similarly toward a Malaysian oil rig in the South China Sea. These tests obstructed the ability of other countries to resupply their outposts near the Paracel Islands and the United States interpreted them as a threat from China that it could hold U.S. bases and vessels, as well as those of allies, at-risk in the event of military escalation in the South China Sea.

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