While other countries mull and worry over the Syrian conflict, another war is brewing in the South China Sea. According to reports, the United States and Australia are looking to beef defenses in the region in light of China’s continued militarization.
US has been concerned over Beijing’s military buildup in the South China sea that it may be increasing its freedom-of-navigation operations in the region. “We will be doing them more, and we’ll be doing them with greater complexity in the future and … we’ll fly, sail and operate wherever international law allows,” The Guardian quoted Admiral Harry Harris, the head of the US Navy’s Pacific Command, during the hearing of the House of Representatives armed services committee.
“We must continue to operate in the South China Sea to demonstrate that the water space and the air above it is international,” the official added. Harris also pointed out how China is trying to change the operational landscape in the conflicted area through missile and radar deployment as part of its efforts to increase dominance in East Asia. China is “clearly militarizing the South China Sea … You’d have to believe in a flat Earth to think otherwise,” commented Harris.
Australia is thinking the same thing as the country will reportedly increase its defense spending by as much as 81 percent for the next ten years. Increased budget will be allocated to boost naval capacity also over concerns on increasing Chinese militarization in the South China Sea. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull released a 2016 Defense White Paper saying that the United States will continue to be the pre-eminent global military power for the next 20 years and Australia will remain its most strategic partner.
“While China will not match the global strategic weight of the U.S., the growth of China’s national power, including its military modernization, means China’s policies and actions will have a major impact on the stability of the Indo-Pacific,” Bloomberg quoted the paper.