07 January 2022

Featured in ANI News: “A Powerful Chinese Navy is Ready to Flex its Muscles”

A Powerful Chinese Navy Is Ready to Flex Its Muscles,” ANI News, 3 January 2022.

“A Powerful Chinese Navy Is Ready to Flex Its Muscles,” ANI News, 3 January 2022.

Hong Kong, January 3 (ANI): Last year was a phenomenal one for China’s navy – the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) – with approximately 170,000 tonnes’ worth of new  ships commissioned in 2021. … … …

With all these new vessels, … the PLAN is prepared to throw its weight around not only in coastal waters but increasingly farther afield. China has been bellicose in its treatment of others in the South China Sea, not only with its navy but also by the China Coast Guard (CCG) and People’s Armed Forces Maritime Militia (PAFMM). Each of the latter two is the largest force of their type in the world.

In a new report entitled “Hold the Line through 2035,” published by Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy, authors Gabriel Collins and Andrew Erickson argue that the USA must stand up strongly to Beijing’s antics attempting to change the status quo and to trample on international law.

The two American academics noted: “China is arguably pushing toward…an inflexion point with its increasingly aggressive actions in the East Asian littoral, including violations of Japanese-administered air- and sea-space, construction and subsequent militarization of disputed reefs in the South China Sea, harassment of oil and gas exploration operations by companies from neighbouring states, and frequent use of maritime forces to harass neighbouring nations’ fishermen.” … …

Collins and Erickson continued: “Each of these individual challenges tests the boundaries of the status quo, and barring a sufficient international response, emboldens further actions to expand Chinese claims and undermine the American-led regional security architecture that has helped ensure peace for three-quarters of a century. The response to China’s revisionist actions must ultimately be multilateral, but American action is the indispensable catalyst for initiating the process and sustaining the early stages when blowback from a not-fully-slowed People’s Republic of China (PRC) will likely be the most intense.”

The year 2021 saw warships from countries like France, Japan, Germany and the UK plying the South China Sea. This reflected greater international alarm, even from distant European powers, about China’s bullying behaviour. However, most Southeast Asian nations are overawed and overmatched by the might of the PLA, and only a couple like Indonesia or Vietnam is willing to stand up to Chinese intimidation.

Collins and Erickson made a recommendation, however. “Washington should take the lead in helping allies and partner countries (to the extent they invite US assistance) positively assert their maritime rights. One prong would entail US freedom of navigation operations that in most cases are unilateral activities, but that may increasingly involve allies and partner states.

US naval forces conducted seven freedom of navigation operations vis-à-vis China in 2019. Maintaining or exceeding this pace would be a ‘demonstrative’ action to show Washington’s resolve in the face of excessive PRC maritime claims … The US Navy and Coast Guard should also begin engaging in ‘definitive’ actions that affirm a readiness to go ‘hands on’ in challenging PRC activities in the South and East China Seas that violate international and local law.” … … …