The Pentagon warned that US maritime forces will become more forceful in responding to acts of aggression, expansionism and violations of international law, citing Beijing in particular, which has been criticized for its expansionist ambitions in the South China Sea.
A major new report signed by the chiefs of the US Marine Corps, Navy, and Coast Guard warned that “the rules-based international order is again under attack”, and the security environment has changed dramatically since 2015.
The report said that China and Russia were now “determined rivals” of the United States, and that China presents “the most pressing long-term strategic threat.”
“China is the only rival with the combined economic and military potential to present a comprehensive long-term challenge to the United States,” the report said.
“It seeks to corrode international maritime governance, deny access to traditional logistics centers, inhibit freedom of the seas, control the use of key choke points, deter our participation in regional disputes, and displace the United States as the preferred partner in countries. of all the world. “
China is in the midst of rapid modernization and expansion of its military power. Its naval force is the largest in the world, more than triple in size in the last two decades. It has embarked on aggressive expansionism in the South and East China Seas with frequent military exercises, and into the Taiwan Strait with almost daily forays into the Taipei Air Defense Identification Zone. In response, the United States has increased its naval activity in the region and enacted sanctions against China.
“Our globally deployed naval forces interact with Chinese and Russian warships and aircraft on a daily basis,” the document said, noting their “increasing aggressiveness” and calling China “the most urgent long-term strategic threat.”
The latest incident between US and Chinese naval forces took place in late August, when Beijing said it had pulled a US warship out of the disputed Paracel archipelago.
Beijing claims nearly all of the islands in the South China Sea, territorial claims disputed by other countries in the region, including Vietnam, Malaysia, the Philippines and Brunei.
To counter China, the United States has been sending ships to the region more frequently to conduct what it calls “freedom of navigation” operations.
The Pentagon report predicted that in the event of conflict, both China and Russia would likely attempt to seize the territory before the United States and its allies could respond effectively.
To maintain the strategic advantage over the Chinese navy, the United States plans to modernize its naval force with smaller, more agile, and even remotely piloted ships.
US ships will also “accept calculated tactical risks and take a more assertive stance in our day-to-day operations,” the statement said.
The report accused Russia and China of using all instruments of power to undermine the international system and remake it in their own interests, in part by incrementally carrying out “a variety of evil activities” so as not to unleash a military response.
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