China has established itself as an expansionary power, taking more islands in the South China Sea and making its foreign policy strategy clear – move over and make space for our power. It employs the Nine-Dash Line, an undefined, vaguely located line that was apparently used in Chinese history as a method of claiming its expanded territory – land reclaimed is called the “great wall of sand.” Please check our most recent audiovisual presentation.
While China is now expanding its sphere of influence in the region, building islands and populating them with fighter jets and strategic bombers and launching aircraft carriers that are specifically constructed to project power well beyond its borders, Japan, South Korea, Vietnam and other nations are challenging China regarding disputed islands. Japan is now coordinating with India and the United States in naval exercises in an effort to contain Chinese influence. We must recognize the dangers that are mounting – Australia does – it is allowing the US access to several of its air force and naval facilities.
In the past, President Donald Trump has sent mixed signals to South Korea and Japan. However, in the past 10 days, the US has signed an historic trade deal with South Korea while the South Korean leader, President Moon, was in Washington. It is becoming transparently obvious that the US will build stronger ties with Japan, South Korea, Australia and Thailand while challenging China – not only on trade but more recently on deeper relations, such as the military.
In a surprising move by Beijing, the Chinese military announced that it will cancel friendly engagements with the US Navy. Of course we are now accustomed to the economic and political tensions between the world`s largest economies but the friendly relationship between the military entities (they talk to each other to reduce risk), has been just that, friendly. As a result, a Chinese Vice Admiral, Mr Shen Jinlong was recalled to Beijing and a US warship, the USS Wasp amphibious ship was denied a port visit to Hong Kong. This means that this trade issue is now more political and impacting the military relationship.
We will be updating on this issue, the issue of a spreading war of words, in the coming weeks.