- US Plans “Significantly More” South China Sea War-Drills To Counter China’s “New Reality”
by Tyler Durden, https://www.zerohedge.com/
After an exciting weekend of comments from U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis and Chinese People’s Liberation Army Lieutenant General He Lei at the IISS Shangri-La Dialogue, a civilian and military defense summit in Singapore, it appears the United States had to have the last word.
On Sunday, two U.S. officials told Reuters that the Pentagon is considering increased naval war drills in the South China Sea near China’s heavily disputed militarized islands. The officials, who are working jointly with Asian diplomats — declined to comment about the Pentagon’s progress in finalizing the plan for the new drills.
Such a move could further increase geopolitical tensions in one of the world’s most volatile regions. Officials explained to Reuters that the naval drills could involve more extensive patrols, ones involving a large number of warships or operations including closer surveillance of the Chinese military bases on the islands, which now includes anti-ship cruise missiles, radar-jamming equipment, and strategic bombers.
U.S. officials said they are not doing this alone. They are aligning international allies and strategic partners to increase “naval deployments through the vital trade route as China strengthens its military capabilities on both the Paracel and Spratly islands.”
“What we have seen in the last few weeks is just the start, significantly more is being planned,” said one Western diplomat, referring to a freedom of navigation patrol late last month that used two U.S. ships for the first time. “There is a real sense more needs to be done.”