Mon, Jul 12, 2004 - Page 3 News List

China getting rattled by US' naval deployments

AFP , BEIJING

China is getting edgy over a new US military strategy aimed at projecting force around the globe and National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice's visit last week was an attempt to calm Beijing down, analysts said.

Rice's trip on Thursday and Friday came as the US military was rolling out an unprecedented deployment of naval power to the Pacific Ocean in what is officially being termed a military exercise, they said.

"It is an unprecedented show of force and a return to gunboat diplomacy," said Andrew Tam, a security expert at the Institute of Defense and Strategic Studies in Singapore.

"The US is sending the message that any threat to peace and stability in Northeast Asia will not be tolerated.

"It is a signal to North Korea, but particularly to the Chinese. The carrier groups are sent as an affirmation of the US support of the status quo in the Taiwan Strait and the current status of Taiwan," Tam said.

The US Navy announced last month that three aircraft carrier battle groups were already in the Pacific and four others were being deployed for the war games called "Summer Pulse 2004."

According to US naval Web sites, the deployment is a part of the Fleet Response Plan, which is aimed at increasing force preparedness and establishing the ability to immediately provide significant combat power in a crisis anywhere in the world.

It comes with Beijing rattling sabers over Taiwan since President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) was inaugurated for his second term on May 20, and with China due this month to start massive amphibious military exercises on Chinese islands in the Taiwan Strait.

During her visit, Rice reiterated Washington's respect for Beijing's "one China" policy and its opposition to Taiwan's independence, while urging China to push forward efforts at resolving the simmering issue of North Korea's nuclear weapons program.

In 1996, the US sent two aircraft carrier groups to the Taiwan Strait after China tested ballistic missiles by lobbing them off shore from Taiwan's major ports. That deployment was its biggest to the region since the Vietnam War.

In the past week, the Chinese press has slammed the US military exercises, with the leading People's Daily outlining a perceived US plan to build up a line of defense in the Western Pacific that starts with Japan and extends down China's coastline through Taiwan and the Philippines.

"The US global strategic review not only again fully exposes a wild ambition for world domination, but at the same time also shows its intention to take unilateral actions in every part of the world," the paper said.

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