U.S. Navy Even Using Submarines To ‘Signal’ China
May 20, 2020 (EIRNS)—The U.S. Navy is so intent on sending loud messages to China that it is even resorting to its submarine fleet, a very unusual tactic, to do so. The Pacific Fleet Submarine Force took the unusual step this month of announcing that all of its forward-deployed subs were simultaneously conducting “contingency response operations” at sea in the Western Pacific, reported the Honolulu Star Advertiser, yesterday. The sub force said the missions were mounted in support of the Pentagon’s “free and open Indo-Pacific” policy aimed at countering China’s alleged expansionism in the South China Sea. At least seven submarines, and likely more—including all four Guam-based attack submarines, the San Diego-based USS Alexandria and multiple Hawaii-based vessels—are part of the effort.
“Our operations are a demonstration of our willingness to defend our interests and freedoms under international law,” Rear Adm. Blake Converse, Pacific sub force commander, who is based at Pearl Harbor, said in a May 8 release.
In Beijing, meanwhile, military leaders are said to be seeking a large increase in the PLA’s budget, arguing that the world’s largest standing army needs more resources to cope with volatile challenges at home and overseas, reports South China Morning Post, which writes that the leading challenge is coming from the U.S. From Beijing’s viewpoint, the military threats are surfacing on its doorstep with U.S. bombers running about 40 flights over contested areas of the South China and East China Seas so far this year, more than three times as many in the same period of 2019. U.S. Navy warships have sailed four “freedom of navigation operations” in the area in the same period, compared with eight in all of last year. There is, of course, no equivalent Chinese threat in the Gulf of Mexico or off the coast of California.
“Beijing feels security threats posed by the U.S. and other foreign countries are increasing, so the People’s Liberation Army wants a budget increase to support its military modernization and combat-ready training,” said Song Zhongping, a Hong Kong military commentator and former officer in the PLA. Military insiders told SCMP that the PLA is seeking at least to match last year’s 7.5% growth in the PLA’s budget, with one even estimating a 9% jump, as tensions escalate with the U.S., despite the fall in the economic growth due to the COVID-19 pandemic.