Yep, it happened again for the 11th time this year. (In 2020, the number was 13.) An American warship, in this case the guided-missile destroyer Milius, sailed through the Taiwan Strait between mainland China and the disputed island of Taiwan to, as a Navy spokesperson put it, “demonstrate the U.S. commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific.” From the Navy point of view, the Milius’s recent voyage is nothing but a vivid demonstration that “the United States military flies, sails, and operates anywhere international law allows.” Who cares how upset Chinese officials might get?
And honestly, who can deny it? Anywhere is anywhere, no matter how loaded (if you’ll excuse that all-too-loaded word) the situation there might be. If Chinese officials are disturbed, how unreasonable of them! TomDispatch regular Michael Klare, in fact, keeps a tally of such close encounters of the naval kind at his Committee for a Sane U.S.-China Policy website. So far this year, he’s already counted 56 of them in the region, no small number when you think about it and any one of which could lead, all too literally, to an explosive situation.
Yes, the spokesmen for the Chinese government, which claims the island of Taiwan as its own, complain bitterly about such constant provocations (as those officials see it). As one put it in response to the latest American sortie, “U.S. warships have repeatedly flexed muscles, made provocations, and stirred up trouble in the Taiwan Strait in the name of ‘freedom of navigation.’ This is by no means commitment to freedom and openness, but rather deliberate disruption and sabotage of regional peace and stability” — but who really cares?
Now, admittedly, I have yet to see American officials invite Chinese naval vessels to sail up and down the California coast, but no one in Washington would mind that, would they? Of course not! In fact, I’m sure, that, in the name of upholding international law, there’s an open invitation to some Chinese guided-missile destroyer to visit soon and often! In the meantime, as Klare suggests today, such maneuvers might be the least of our future problems — with a potential World War III looming on the horizon. Tom
It May Arrive Sooner Than You Think
When the Department of Defense released its annual report on Chinese military strength in early November, one claim generated headlines around the world. By 2030, it suggested, China would probably have 1,000 nuclear warheads -- three times more than at present and enough to pose a substantial threat to the United States. As a Washington Post headline put it, typically enough: “China accelerates nuclear weapons expansion, seeks 1,000 warheads or more, Pentagon says.”
The media, however, largely ignored a far more significant claim in that same report: that China would be ready to conduct “intelligentized” warfare by 2027, enabling the Chinese to effectively resist any U.S. military response should it decide to invade the island of Taiwan, which they view as a renegade province. To the newsmakers of this moment, that might have seemed like far less of a headline-grabber than those future warheads, but the implications couldn’t be more consequential. Let me, then, offer you a basic translation of that finding: as the Pentagon sees things, be prepared for World War III to break out any time after January 1, 2027.Read More