There really isn’t much news this week in the Pacific. China and Russia practice war games in the disputed South Sea while the US and South Korea practice their war games near the Korean Peninsula. Taiwan’s government continues what is expected of the new regime: Status quo, strength, and corruption crackdowns—two of which don’t exactly please China.
Status quo is exactly what China will not accept. Taiwan and the US object to the objection to status quo. No big changes are coming from the countries China opposes. China is determined to break the mood. Beijing sees the West as “already having” upset status quo and wants to revert to history—well, a specific part of history anyway. So, “status quo” has become a relative term, as has “perp”. We’ll have to leave conclusions in the hands of the people.
That conclusion may be soon as much as it may be well-informed. The world slowly becomes more and more aware of what is happening in the South Sea. When someone busts a move to make headlines, there won’t be any surprises.
China and the US rattled sabers over Taiwan. Arguably, they smacked sheathed sabers. A US Navy ship, USS William P. Lawrence, sailed past one of China’s military-stocked man-made islands with two Chinese jet escorts chasing it away. Chinese and Washington generals want to increase freedom of navigation and communication. Washington wants Taiwan to spend more on asymmetric military defense against China.
The US is concerned about China’s missiles preventing it from intervening should China invade Taiwan. Guam and Okinawa are supposedly at risk and could be denied access to Taiwan’s defense. This concern has activated a strong response from the US and Taiwan to prepare responses. The new US electromagnetic railgun is approaching its days of early deployment and already has active prototypes. It can travel 7 times the speed of sound, uses no explosive propellants, costs less money, allows transporters to carry more ammunition, can penetrate steel “like a hot knife through butter”, receives satellite and other guidance, and can be used as both an assault and anti-missile defense system.
So it would seem, just as China claims freedom of navigation in the South China Sea has given Beijing reason to erect islands, China has given the US the excuse it needs to deploy technology that blurs the lines between science and science fiction.
Last week’s unreported US military exercises in Taiwan’s southern city of Kaohsiung, along with the neighboring indictment of the minority party’s legislative control through vote-buying, no doubt sends an unreported message to Beijing. What we see in the headlines more or less tells the same story. The Asian establishment feels threatened.
Every man’s defense is another man’s offense. If “we” own it, it’s a “missile defense” system. If “they” own it, it’s a “missile attack” system. If you ask the Chinese and Russians, the American people don’t like their government. If you ask the Americans, the Chinese and Russian people don’t like their governments. In “Boilerplateville” everyone is right.
China and Russia don’t want an early-stop anti-missile system close to the loose nuclear cannons in northern Korea. The United States sails anywhere and everywhere that anyone anywhere says is able to be sailed—violating nonunanimous claims of both foe and friend. No disputes are exempted. When it comes to allies in Asia Pacifica, Japan debates a lame duck in Taiwan over a fishing boat.