China Stares Down the U.S. and South Korea
In an earlier post of mine (found HERE) I discussed that China was reluctant to take a stance on the sinking of the Cheonan. China has unofficially picked a side now as far as I am concerned. The United States and the U.S. Navy have announced that starting this Sunday through Wednesday joint operations between the U.S. and South Korea will be taking place. China has expressed its concern and has said that they are wary of a U.S. presence there. China has also just wrapped up a major naval operation in the same area just the other day and officials were quoted saying “the timing is not such a coincidence”.
The United States has brushed off China’s threats; mainly because they lack a sizable navy. The U.S. says the operations are to be a deterrent to the North Koreans as a major show of force. It’s not just small scale destroyers and a few rubber rafts either. The USS George Washington, a nuclear powered aircraft carrier, will also be taking part. Nearly 8,000 men, 20 ships and submarines will be active for the operations in the Sea of Japan.
The U.S. announced that further operations would be taking place including some on the other side of the Korean peninsula. The Yellow Sea is an area that China claims as a military operations zone. It is unclear which ships will take part in the Yellow Sea operations, but a big message to China would be to have the George Washington parked out back. As North Korea’s biggest ally, China both financially and militarily has expressed that it strongly objects to any foreign military operations in their zones. China’s operation “Warfare 2010″ was aimed at improving Chinese coastal defenses and response time to maritime threats.
Geoff Morrell, the Pentagon press secretary traveling with Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said “I don’t think it’s cause for concern” while he was in South Korea. China has refused to agree with the international community and the UN that North Korea was ultimately responsible for the sinking of the Cheonan, despite the evidence of a North Korean torpedo being used.
The Chinese have been beefing up their navy recently and have been exerting dominance in other regions. The Chinese Navy has been typically suited to coastal defense and defense of small ally’s however that seems to be over. The Chinese are looking to be able to venture out, and are currently building an aircraft carrier. The Chinese navy is even pushing into waters that are usually dominated by the United States. This new strategy is called “far sea defense”.
While China refuses to take a side verbally, their shady actions under the table send a strong message. It’s quite clear that China sides with North Korea, but is going to use this as a reason to bolster both defensive and offensive power. The Chinese navy is laughable when compared to that of the United States’ however it won’t be for long. I agree with the operations in response to the sinking, however I don’t feel we should push China’s buttons for long. Sometime in the future China’s going to have the option of boldly saying NO to the U.S. and we both know how the U.S. reacts when it’s told no.