The US is showing no signs of backing down in the South China Sea dispute. As Chinese activities seemed to have heightened up, the Pentagon has decided to ramp up its efforts in the region by launching underwater drones along the Spratly archipelago. Is this war?
Several nations have started calling out China over its increased efforts to pursue its territorial ambitions in the South China Sea region. However, that appears to be in vain as Beijing continues to switch on radar systems and land planes in the disputed region. Washington has expressed its opposition already and has continued to challenge Beijing’s claims over freedom of navigation. However, this is not the only thing that the West is doing as it has started military drills in the Philippines and even sent millions worth of technology to help monitor maritime activity and secure borders.
Pentagon has also decided to become more “aggressive” as it conducted Navy patrols in the region. As part of its initiative to deter Chinese aggression, the agency will also reportedly send underwater robots.
“Countries across the Asia-Pacific are voicing concern with China’s land reclamation, which stands out in size and scope, as well as its militarization in the South China Sea,” Sputnik quoted US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter during his visit to the USS Stennis in the South China Sea on Friday.
Cater also confirmed that the Pentagon is working on “new undersea drones in multiple sizes and diverse payloads that can, importantly, operate in shallow water, where submarines cannot.”
Additionally, the Pentagon is also looking to shell out as much as $8 billion on unmanned and manned submarines although the focus will be on equipping autonomous submersibles.
“The idea is that if we were ever to get into a bust-up in the South China Sea, the Chinese would not know for sure what sort of capabilities the US might have,” said Shawn Brimley of the Center for a New American Security via Financial Times.
“This might have deterrent impact on the potential for provocative behavior,” added Brimley.
The ongoing dispute in the region continues to challenge regional peace, according to Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi. According to the official, the territorial conflicts have been prompting governments to double engagement efforts to manage the rising tensions.
“There are still several security issues that remain a challenge in our efforts to ensure continued peace and stability in this region… the geopolitics of the region is also changing rapidly, with the competing interests of major powers contesting for primacy in this part of the world,” The Malay Online quoted Zahid as he spoke before an international defense forum.
“In particular of late, the South China Sea disputes and the intercession of external interests make the effort to maintain peace, security and stability in the region more complex,” he added.