The news comes as talks between US and Chinese officials in Singapore last week led to some open and frank comments at the conclusion of the discus
The news comes as talks between US and Chinese officials in Singapore last week led to some open and frank comments at the conclusion of the discussion. China warned it would be willing to go to war over Taiwan, which it states belongs under the “One China Policy”, whilst the US claimed Beijing should not indulge in “coercive behaviour” in the region.
With the potential of conflict over the island an option on the table, one analyst has stated the US may not be in a position to defend the tiny island should war commence.
Writing on Twitter about the conundrum the US finds itself in, Russia-China Expert Danil Bochkov said: “Only fraction of US forces, 10 to 15 percent of naval/air assets deployed in Western Pacific.
“If China were to attempt to take Taiwan, its geographic proximity and military expansion make it increasingly likely that Beijing will have an advantage in the early stages of a conflict.”
China’s positional advantage will allow supplies of both personnel and military equipment to be delivered to a war front much quicker than the US, who would have to rely on supplies arriving from the mainland, or bases located around the Pacific.
In order to combat the clear shortfall in military capability in the region, lawmakers in the US have made attempts to pass a bill to ensure the problem is addressed.
Democratic and Republican lawmakers will next week introduce legislation to spur the White House to funnel more money to the Indo-Pacific region to help counter China.
Ami Bera, the Democratic chair of the House foreign affairs Asia subcommittee, and Steve Chabot, the top Republican on the panel, hope their Indo-Pacific Engagement Act will narrow the gap between the rhetoric about Asia being a priority region and funding levels.
Already the US has committed to increasing its naval presence in the area in a joint deal with Australia and the UK to build nuclear-powered submarines in Australia known as AUKUS.
In spite of not openly admitting the deal is designed to counter Chinese threats in the Indo-Pacific region, China believes the deal is a direct threat to its national and international interests.
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The US and its allies have raised numerous concerns about Chinese expansion in the South China Sea through the development of man-made islands reclaimed from the sea.
President Joe Biden came into office vowing to confront rising Chinese global domination, yet many criticise the President who has failed to match his promises with actions.
Speaking of the urgency to deal with the growing threat, Mr Bera told the FT: “Going back to the Obama administration, we’ve been trying to do this pivot to the Indo-Pacific.
“We’re getting there, but we’re getting there awfully slowly.
“We want to make sure we’re not losing focus on the strategic competition of the 21st century — competition with China.”
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China also poses more than a military threat to the US.
Economists argue China will surpass the US as the world’s largest economy by the year 2024, with growth continuing to be shown in China as it emerges from the global Covid pandemic.
The bill designed by Mr Bera and Mr Chabot will require the US Agency for International Development to submit an annual report outlining any resources needed in the region to keep China in check.
Mr Chabot said: “If we truly believe China is the priority and the Indo-Pacific is where the future of the 21st century will be written, we need to match our rhetoric with our budgets. It’s that simple”
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In terms of military power, the majority of US bases in the Pacific region are located in Japan, with the island of Okinawa being a major base, as well as on the tiny US island of Guam.
The US also enjoys naval assets in Singapore, located to the South West of the South China Sea.
The US Pacific Fleet consists of formidable numbers nonetheless, with 130,000 personnel, 1,200 aircraft and 200 vessels at its disposal.
The fleet is currently under the command of Admiral Samuel Paparo, who is the 37th commander of the group since its creation in 1941.