US and China officials continue to trade verbal blows, ensuring military tension between the two countries remains ever increasing. US defense chief Mark Esper has asserted that his military will not ‘cede an inch’ in the Pacific, while Chinese officials have accused the US of endangering the lives of soldiers. Issues such as technology, human rights and China’s activity in the disputed South China Sea are at the heart of the disagreements and each side has accused the other of behaving deliberately provocatively.
Last week saw the Trump administration blacklist 24 Chinese companies and blast certain individuals because of military action and construction in the South China Sea waterway. A US Navy warship frequently carries out a routine operation near the Paracel Islands in the South China Sea, which Beijing officials say threatens their sovereignty.
“To advance the CCP’s agenda, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) continues to pursue an aggressive modernization plan to achieve a world class military by the middle of the century,” Esper said, also claiming that the Chinese Communist Party, CCP, wanted Beijing to use its military to project more power globally.
“This will undoubtedly involve the PLA’s provocative behavior in the South and East China Seas, and anywhere else the Chinese government has deemed critical to its interests.” “However, the United States want to hopefully continue to work with the People’s Republic of China to get them back on a trajectory that is more aligned with the international rules based order.”
“We’re not going to cede this region, an inch of ground if you will, to another country, any other country that thinks their form of government, their views on human rights, their views on sovereignty, their views on freedom of the press, freedom of religion, freedom of assembly, all those things, that somehow that’s better than what many of us share,” Esper continued.
President Trump and his administration have consistently mocked and undermined the Chinese people and their government, most notably in recent times for the country’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, even though the US has the most cases in the world. China’s Defense Ministry has accused ‘certain US politicians’ of intentionally damaging military relations between the two countries ahead of the election in November for political gain, even claiming that some wanted military clashes.
“This kind of behavior puts the lives of frontline officers and soldiers on both sides at risk,” spokesman Wu Qian told reporters at a monthly briefing last week. “China is not scared of ‘provocation and pressure’ from the United States and will resolutely defend itself and not allow the United States to cause trouble,” he added. “We hope the U.S. side will truly adopt a strategic vision, view China’s development with an open and rational attitude, and leave behind the quagmire of anxiety and entanglement.”
Reuters were told by a US defense official that China had launched at least four medium-range ballistic missiles that landed between the Paracel Islands and Hainan Island in the South China Sea.
The Pentagon reiterated fears of the growing tensions, saying it was concerned over the firing of the missiles, as well as China’s recent military exercises as a whole.
“Conducting military exercises over disputed territory in the South China Sea is counterproductive to easing tensions and maintaining stability,” the Pentagon said in a statement.
“The US military had told Chinese authorities in July that it would continue to monitor the situation with the expectation that the PRC (People’s Republic of China) will reduce its militarization and coercion of its neighbors in the South China Sea.”
Chinese officials have recently pleaded with Trump to stop using Beijing as a scapegoat for the coronavirus pandemic and other global issues, but it seems unlikely that Trump will change his ways with an election looming.
“Washington insiders asked me not to stand up to China. They pleaded with me to let China continue stealing our jobs, ripping us off and robbing our country blind. But I kept my word to the American people. We took the toughest, boldest, strongest and hardest hitting action against China in American history by far,” President Trump said during his speech on day four of the Republican National Convention.
“We will go right after China. We will not rely on them one bit. We’re taking our business out of China. We are bringing it home. We want our business to come home,” he continued. “We will continue to reduce taxes and regulations at levels not seen before. We will create 10 million jobs in the next 10 months. And it will be higher than that. We will hire more police, increased penalties for assault. So law enforcement and surge, federal prosecutors into high crime communities. We will ban deadly sanctuary cities and ensure that federal healthcare is protected for American citizens. Not for illegal aliens.”