The Chinese State Media has sent a clear warning to the United States today. The country’s news sources are unhappy with the military power of the United States in the Asia Pacific region and what is clearly a strategy of increasing that power in future.
The United States has not officially given reasons for its expansion of power in the region but it is clear to the Chinese media, and the country’s leaders, that it is a policy of precautionary containment of China. The Communist Party run newspaper The China Daily alleged that the United States presence in the region would create schisms.
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Leon Panetta, the United States Secretary of Defense, announced on Saturday that the United States would increase the number of Battleships it had in the region to 60% of the total by 2020. The US Navy currently positions 50% of those ships in the region. Panetta was speaking at a conference of defense officials from the region in Singapore. He is currently wrapping up a week long visit to Asia.
The US has been consistently increasing its interest in the region as China strives to become the world’s foremost economic power and tries to increase its influence across the entire region.
Late last year it was announced that Australia had agreed to cooperate with the United States in installing 2500 US Marines in a new base in the north of the country. China hit out against that plan alleging that the United States was attempting to escalate military tensions in the region.
President Obama is pursuing a relatively modest, albeit thorough, increase in the militarization of the region. The United States has not been as active in the Asia Pacific since the close of the Vietnam War. It appears the military is once again willing to expand its influence as China offers a potent counterweight.
President Obama and military leaders are quick to present the new strategies as non confrontational in relation to China. There are plenty of other excuses for having an influence in the region. The first among those is the plea of Allies such as Japan and India looking for enhanced security in the region they call their home.
The second is the increasing, or at least apparently increasing, threat from “rogue nations”, North Korea first among them. As long as China allows North Korea to operate as it is, the United States will have that excuse for a continuing and strengthening presence in the area.