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China plans to present a plan to increase military spending at the annual opening of its Parliament on March 5th. The move comes amid the implementation of the new national security law and military exercises recently conducted by the U.S. and its allies in the Indo-Pacific region.
“China is facing the most serious security situation since the Korean War, increased military spending increases military tensions,” Ni Lexiong, Professor of Political Science and Law at Shanghai University told Japanese media.
The United States has stepped up its diplomatic and military presence in the region in defiance of Beijing and in a bid to compete with China’s growing influence and military strength in Asia.
In recent weeks, ships of the Seventh Fleet have sailed near Taiwan and through disputed territory in the South China Sea. In addition, Washington has increased its military force in Japan and secured forces from France, the United Kingdom and Germany to join future military training in the Pacific.
Why is China, with its sophisticated military a threat to the West?
The Chinese Communist Party is responsible for committing crimes against humanity such as genocide, forced labor and for causing the West to make a delayed response to contain COVID-19 by not transparently handling information about the virus.
With a planned strategy to supply vaccines to developing countries and a scheme that allowed it to be the only economic power growing in the midst of the pandemic in 2020, China seeks to gain hegemony over the United States in Asia and the rest of the world.
It becomes a threat considering that China is a strategic partner of the world’s strongest dictatorships, such as North Korea, Iran, Venezuela and Cuba. However, the key that would give it power is the dominance of the South China Sea in the Indo-Pacific region.
China vulnerable due to its dependence on the South China Sea
In the South China Sea trade before the pandemic “was worth $5.3 trillion annually of which $1.2 trillion is accounted for by trade with the United States.” In addition, in 2017 through the South China Sea transited “40 percent of the world’s trade in liquefied natural gas.”
Diplomatic disputes, trade blockades and military conflicts would be the consequence of a Chinese Communist Party dominance in the region where Japan has announced that it will respond with force to Chinese incursions into its territory.
Thus, the strategy promoted by the Administration of former President Donald Trump for a free and open Indo-Pacific region is an important commitment to stability and peace in the area, in contrast to the coercion exercised by China.
China steps up military exercises in defiance of the Seventh Fleet
In its multiple exercises, the Seventh Fleet sent reconnaissance aircraft which, according to the Chinese press, have military significance because they allow America to “gather military intelligence on the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) and hydrological environments at sea, including eavesdropping on PLA communications.”
Moreover, unlike the American Army, that operates around the world and has been constantly in battles, China’s PLA has not fought an actual war for decades.
With the new security law in place, the Chinese Army will receive high-quality training that would strengthen it in the ability to win wars with a view to making it sufficiently competitive like the American Army.
Intensive training, not only of soldiers but also of commanders and the creation of realistic battlefield environments, are among its priorities.
Accordingly, Beijing has announced that it would “conduct military exercises in the South China Sea throughout March.” This sea is a point of high tension due to China’s territorial disputes against Vietnam, Taiwan, Japan and the Philippines.
The military exercises will take place in a circular area with a radius of five kilometers in the South China Sea, west of the Leizhou Peninsula, a border area with Vietnam and the Philippines.
Camilo Bello is a consultant focused on Asia Pacific studies and has experience in strategic management. He has studied law in Colombia and is currently pursuing studies in language and history at National Taiwan Normal University. He has collaborated with Students for Freedom in Hong Kong and Taiwan // Camilo es consultor enfocado en estudios de Asia Pacífico y experiencia en gestión estratégica. Cuenta con estudios en Derecho en Colombia y actualmente se encuentra realizando estudios en lenguaje e historia en National Taiwan Normal University. Colaborador de Estudiantes por la Libertad en Hong Kong y Taiwán