Thursday, December 15, 2016

Sea tension cools, Harris creates new waves

Admiral Harry Harris, head of the US Pacific Command, said Wednesday in Sydney that the US is ready to confront China's "aggressive" actions in the South China Sea after the July arbitration and will deploy the F-22 Raptor to northern Australia next year. 

The US won't allow a "shared domain to be closed down unilaterally," he said. "We will cooperate when we can but we will be ready to confront when we must."

A recent report by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) said Wednesday that China has installed weapons, including anti-aircraft and anti-missile systems, on the artificial islands it has built in the South China Sea, citing satellite images.  

All this information was released by the US at a time when stability is being restored in the South China Sea and Beijing is working with Manila and Hanoi to enhance cooperation. The Japanese government was faster than the South China Sea claimants to comment on the report on Thursday. 

The authenticity of facts listed by the CSIS report is unknown, but in any case, it's legitimate and reasonable for China to deploy defensive weapons on its own islands. It doesn't need to ask for anyone's permission. 

The deployment has threatened no one. It is the US that has been flexing its muscles by deploying 14 F-22 jets to Japan previously and then to Australia. The Pentagon has never bothered to ask for Beijing's permission in advance.

Harris is perhaps the most senior US military leader to have regularly spoken such tough rhetoric against China in the past years. 

Because of this high frequency, Chinese people have grown numb to his words, including his talk about how his forces must be ready "to fight tonight."

The US Pacific Fleet used to be mysterious for Chinese society, yet after being used as a card many times by Harris, its deterrent effect is decreasing. If a real confrontation emerges between Beijing and Washington one day, the fleet Harris was so proud of will only turn into a target to be attacked.

Harris might want to hype up the heat in the South China Sea before Trump enters the White House to urge the new president to keep piling military pressure on China in the West Pacific Ocean. Washington announced long before that 60 percent of its military assets would be deployed in the Asia-Pacific region. US alliances in the area have been strengthened, Washington's military base in Guam has been upgraded into a crucial fortress and a large number of advanced US weapons are being deployed near China. It would be folly to think that China would not respond. 

While the US is putting increasing forces on China's doorstep, it is strange that Beijing's strategic defense is described as strategic aggression. Harris needs to learn some philosophy, which might help him discover some chances to pursue peaceful co-existence among all the contradictions in the West Pacific Ocean. 

No comments: