The waters around Taiwan are expected to become the focus of increased military movements, a defense analyst has said.
Su Tzu-yun (蘇紫雲), a senior analyst at the government-funded Institute for National Defense and Security Research, made the remark in a paper titled US Strategic Mobility in Deployment to Ensure Regional Security.
The area covers the Miyako Strait, the Bashi Channel, the East China Sea, the South China Sea and the Philippine Sea, Su said.
The Indo-Pacific region is facing tensions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and China’s increased military projection, especially in the South China Sea, where Beijing has built artificial islands, deployed nuclear submarines and announced administrative districts, Su said.
With the absence of US carrier strike groups in the region over the past few months due to the pandemic, Beijing’s policy of “militarizing, nuclearizing and domesticalizing” the South China Sea has affected regional security, stability and the strategic nuclear balance, he said.
However, the US Navy on May 10 announced that six of its aircraft carriers — the Harry S. Truman, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Ronald Reagan, Nimitz, Abraham Lincoln and Gerald R. Ford — returned to action, ending the military vacuum in regions around the world, Su said.
The US’ adjustments to its Indo-Pacific strategy requires close attention, Su said, pointing to the shift in rationale from “continuous bomber presence mission” to a “strategically predictable, but operationally unpredictable” approach, as indicted in the US 2018 National Defense Strategy.
One example of this is the introduction of US B-1B supersonic heavy bombers to the East China and South China seas in the past few months, including one instance on May 8, when two B-1Bs flew to the South China Sea via the Bashi Channel and the Sulu Sea in a pincer formation, Su wrote.
Regarding traditional military deployments, the US is seeking to bolster the combat capabilities of its amphibious assault ships, and has deployed anti-ship missiles with its army and marine units for waterway blockage when necessary, in support of its navy, Su said.
“The US strategic mindset in countering China’s air and sea expansions is through exterior-line operations for multidirectional suppressions,” he wrote.
“In terms of geostrategy, the US is focusing on waters such as the Miyako Strait, Bashi Channel, East China Sea, South China Sea and Philippine Sea,” he said.
Competition for land and sea power would be crucial to international politics and regional security in the post-pandemic period, he added.
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