War fears as top US admiral says action against China ‘has to occur now’ – tensions surge
China 'not impressed' by US military exercises says expert
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Admiral John C. Aquilino, head of the US Indo-Pacific Command, urged America and its allies to push back against Beijing. Speaking at the virtual Aspen Security Forum on Wednesday, Admiral Aquilino said the US strategy of “integrated deterrence” toward China is critical to maintaining peace in the region.
Making reference to a series of recent Chinese provocations – including indications to retake control of Taiwan, the crackdown on protesters in Hong Kong and repression of the Uighur people – the top Pacific commander called for US forces to accelerate preparations for a potential conflict.
“We view those actions with concern,” he said.
“We view with concern the unlawful claim to the entire South China Sea, directly and negatively impacting all of the countries in the region.
“Those are the things that lead me to believe that our execution of integrated deterrence has to occur now — and with a sense of urgency.”
China has claimed over 90 percent of the resource-rich South China Sea as part of its territory.
The US and its allies routinely conduct “freedom of navigation” operations in the strategic waterway which is estimated to handle approximately 25 percent of all global trade.
The admiral’s warning comes as India announces the deployment of four warships to the South China Sea to join the US, Japan and Australia for military drills.
India’s Defense Ministry said the two-month deployment will involve participation in the Malabar 2021 naval exercises and bilateral drills with naval forces from countries in the region.
In a statement, the ministry said: “These maritime initiatives enhance synergy and coordination between the Indian Navy and friendly countries, based on common maritime interests and commitment towards Freedom of Navigation at sea.”
Last week, the UK spurred the ire of China’s People’s Liberation Army as HMS Queen Elizabeth transited the contested waterway.
A spokesperson for Britain’s Defence Ministry assured China the mission would not be “confrontational” in nature.
He said: “As the Defense Secretary said to the United Kingdom Parliament back in April, we are not going to go to the other side of the world to be provocative.
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“We will be confident, but not confrontational.”
As the ship approached the region, Beijing responded by accusing the UK of still living in its “colonial days”.
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