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Tags: china | pacific | defenses

US, Allies Bolster Defenses in Pacific Amid Provocations


By    |   Monday, 20 February 2023 04:34 PM EST

The Chinese spy balloon spotted over nuclear sites in Montana and shot down by the U.S. this month is the latest in a string of recent provocations by Beijing, Moscow, and Pyongyang that have prompted the U.S. and its closest allies in the Indo-Pacific to boost military capabilities and bolster cooperation, The Washington Post reported Monday.

"The current environment is probably the most dangerous I've seen in 30 years of doing this business," Adm. John Aquilino, commander of all U.S. military forces in the Indo-Pacific, told the Post.

The provocations included missiles fired over Taiwan in August after a visit by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi; Beijing's rapidly increasing nuclear arsenal and a pair of Chinese surveillance balloon sightings near the Hawaiian Islands last year; North Korea's record number of missile launches in 2022; Beijing's "no limits" ties with Moscow; and China's unrelenting expansion of militarized air bases in the South China Sea.

These events collectively have resulted in U.S. allies in the region "bolstering their own defenses, they're looking to strengthen their alliances and partnerships with the United States in particular, and they're reaching out to each other," Ely Ratner, assistant secretary of defense for Indo-Pacific security affairs, told the Post. "All of these things are happening at once."

Japan announced in December that it will significantly increase its defense budget and purchase U.S.-made Tomahawk cruise missiles, while the Philippines this month said it would permit American troops to access four additional military sites in the country.

Australia is expected soon to unveil a path forward to buy nuclear-powered submarines with the help of the U.S. and Britain, according to the Post.

Deploying U.S. nuclear submarines in Australia would be significant, experts say, as a base in the Indian Ocean would be outside the range of most Chinese missiles, with Michael Green, chief executive of the United States Studies Center at the University of Sydney and a White House Asia aide under the George W. Bush administration, adding it would also "show the Australians are serious about getting ready to deploy their own nuclear-powered subs." 

The deal has angered the Chinese, who view it as a deliberate provocation and accuse the U.S. and partners of attempting to contain China through an "Anglo-Saxon clique." 

Russia's invasion of Ukraine and Beijing's massive military growth have increased regional fears that a Chinese invasion of Taiwan is possible.

Gen. Kenneth Wilsbach, commander of the U.S. Air Force in the Pacific, said that "the stronger Taiwan is all the way around, the higher the deterrent value that is, and the greater the chance we have that China will decide that now is not the time [to invade]." 

Aquilino said the U.S. needs to improve its own posture in the region and said "nations are operating in ways they haven't operated before," pointing to a six-nation exercise in October that featured the carriers USS Ronald Reagan and Britain's Queen Elizabeth in the Philippine Sea, with a Japanese and Dutch destroyer synchronizing with aircraft and undersea maneuvers, as well as space and cyberspace operations, the Post reported.

Micronesia President David Panuelo said U.S. efforts in the region were beginning to have an effect.

"Pacific nations are looking at the alignment of their relationships," he said, citing a failed Chinese effort last year to reach a regional security pact and other recent setbacks for Beijing.

© 2023 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

Recent provocations by Beijing, Moscow, and Pyongyang have prompted the U.S. and its closest allies in the Indo-Pacific to boost military capabilities and bolster cooperation, The Washington Post reported Monday.
china, pacific, defenses
Monday, 20 February 2023 04:34 PM
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