Is US military show-off over South China Sea appropriate?

In fact, China’s rising imperialist aggressions and assertions over South China Sea, followed by Sino-Indian standoff, have prompted the US to display its awe-inspiring military power in the disputed waters of this region. This is so with a view to deter Beijing’s increasing transgressions with the mightier power of America.


Indeed, the US wants to maintain and assert its unquestioned global hegemony in Indo-Pacific but that has been under serious threat due to Beijing’s rising expansionism in entire Indo-Pacific. Because China has been vigorously pursuing its expansionist policies in all directions for the past many years, thereby arousing undesired border disputes with almost all countries in this region. Surprisingly, China has not spared even major powers like Japan or Russia with a view to satisfy its unlimited greed of capturing islands (of Japan) or (Russia’s Vladivostak city) lands of other countries.

Thus China’s such outrageous and hostile behaviour with most of the countries has obviously led to forging of a global consensus among almost all major and regional powers including smaller ones in the Indo-Pacific. Further, China’s alleged involvement in manufacturing Corona virus in its Wuhan Lab of Virology has already united the international community under the US leadership. And that demands a befitting lesson be taught to Beijing to contain its aggressive misadventures.

Here an obvious question arises – whether or not – this kind of intervention by a faraway super power in Asian affairs is appropriate? Particularly when, America has not been mandated by the Security Council or General Assembly of the United Nations to take any action against China. Nonetheless, the US is earnestly pursuing a bigger and more threatening military exercise against Beijing’s ongoing military exercise in the disputed waters of the South China Sea, thereby arousing a grim scenario in the entire region. This is why the ongoing row between the US and China over South China Sea is becoming bad to worse with both sides hectically engaged in massive showoff of their respective dreaded weapons. While China has threatened to use DF-21D and DF-26 missiles to destroy the two American aircraft carriers viz, USS Nimitz and USS Ronald Reagan already deployed in the region, Washington has responded with greater firmness to reciprocate a massive retaliation to any misadventure undertaken by China. Further, Beijing is deploying J-12 Fighter Jets whereas Washington is sending its Naval Strike Groups to South China Sea.

Thus, the mounting belligerence between the two with each passing day evidently poses ominous portents for the peace and security of not only the two opponents but for the whole world. As is clear that both the US and China are today the mighty military powers and are equipped with nuclear weapons and many other advanced lethal arsenals. While the US is still having the exceptionally largest pool of such deadly weapons and highly trained military personnel that turn it to be the strongest global military power, China is keeping the largest army with huge accumulation of various modern and dangerous armaments. Indeed, the superior and advanced technical features of the US military can change the territorial status-quo in the South China Sea though that may result into third-World War. But that must not happen as war is not a solution of any crisis. Instead, peaceful and diplomatic solutions may be pursued to resolve this Sino-US faceoff over South China Sea.


Also Read: Mounting Sino-US tensions over South China Sea


While America justifies its ongoing military exercises for resisting China’s illegal sovereign claim over the entire South China Sea and for ensuring unhindered navigation through maritime channels, China persists with its military exercise to protect its territorial claims over the island, despite losing the case in the International Court of Arbitration in 2016. Not only that, but Beijing also obstructs free movement of naval cargoes of other countries passing through this region, reiterating its false claim. Instead of obeying the judgement of the world’s apex Court, China has turned the entire island into a fort, stationing its army and arsenals. Also, being the sole super power in the world, America carries its responsibility to promote international trade and commerce through this region too. Similarly, China is also expected to honour and share the accompanying responsibility that follows with its rising power status in the world.

In this scenario, doesn’t is show a collective failure of all Asian powers which are unable to tame the increasing militarist expansionism of China! Haven’t they failed to evolve a common united front to pressurize Beijing to respect the territorial sanctity of all other nations? Though there is no other option but to tame the dragon by force, this kind of power-game by an external sole super power is not good for the regional homogeneity and cohesiveness of Asia. Because it may open door to greater mutual bickering among regional partners as happened in West Asia which still continues to be a boiling pot due to the continuing super power rivalry therein. As the world history is replete with many instances of super powers involvement in different regions in the world which afterwards suffered much violence and insecurity for longer periods to follow.

Thus today, though there is no effective substitute to the US intervention is Asian affairs to restrain China, but that must be authorized by the UN. Also the legal sanctity of South China Sea as pronounced by the apex Court must be restored. And a powerful regional bulwark must be erected by the regional member-states to contain the bullying and hegemonic-imperialist policies of China, or any other country. Further, Beijing must be pressurized to respect the territorial sanctity of all other sovereign states in accordance with the spirit of Panchsheel. This can happen as nothing is beyond human endeavour.


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Sudhanshu Tripathi

A featured weekly contributor with The Dispatch, Sudhanshu Tripathi is a Professor in Political Science and Director at School of Social Sciences in Uttar Pradesh Rajarshi Tandon Open University, Prayagraj (UP), India. He is author India’s Foreign Policy: Dilemma over Non Alignment 2.0 (2020), NAM and India (2012) and a co-authored book in Hindi Rajnitik Avadharnayein (2001) and have published besides numerous articles and research papers. He was awarded with the SaraswatSamman by Pt. S. R. Institute of Education and Technology (PG College), Pratapgarh (UP), on “Shikshak Divas” (Teacher’s Day) in 2016 and was also honouredthe same in 2019 by Lion’s Club Allahabad Central at UPRTOU, Prayagaraj. He is also on the Editorial Advisory Board of the Third Concept journal. The author actively participates in social activities as well. He organized a mass awareness rally in 2011, in the wake of Anna Hazare’s ongoing fast unto death against corruption in New Delhi. He was the President of the Teacher’s Association in MDPG College, Pratapgarh, (UP), during 2013–2017 and was also the Vice-President of the Shikshak Mahasangh in the district unit of Pratapgarh during almost the same period.