Amid the deepening geopolitical dispute between the United States and China, the two countries have sent aircraft carriers to conduct military exercises in areas Beijing considers Chinese.
Mutual provocation is an intensification of the rivalry based on confirmation that Joe Biden, the new US president, will follow the path of confrontation opened by his predecessor, Donald Trump.
The Republican Cold War 2.0, which began in 2017, covered almost every possible area of competition, from Hong Kong autonomy to 5G mobile technology networks, and obviously has a central military component.
The American idea is to highlight the main strategic weakness of China, which is its dependence on sea routes to keep its industry alive, both by exporting (20% of Chinese GDP in the Indian Ocean).
To this end, Washington has revived the Quad, a group of its allies in the Indo-Pacific formed by Japan, Australia and India, focused on joint military exercises to demonstrate its ability to strangle and surround the Chinese. .
Under Biden, the club held its first leadership meeting and sought to focus on political aspects, such as facilitating access to Covid-19 vaccines in Southeast Asia, to counterbalance diplomacy. Beijing Sanitary.
The American also set a diplomatic trap by agreeing to a summit of foreign ministers in Alaska, but promoting new sanctions against Chinese women due to the crackdown in Hong Kong on the eve of the meeting.
During the meeting, the American openness was filled with criticism of the Chinese, who responded by doubling their tone. The weather has even calmed down and the opening has been made, but the taste remains sour.
Over the past week, the Philippines complained about the presence of a Chinese militia on the disputed Whitsun Reef in the South China Sea. The communist dictatorship considers 85% of these territorial waters as its own and the militarization of small islets and atolls has been part of this occupation strategy since 2014.
Beijing says the boats there are just fishing boats. Coincidence or not, the nuclear aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt, one of 11 in the United States, entered the region on Sunday (4), crossing the strategic Strait of Malacca – through which most of China’s maritime trade passes. .
A few hours earlier, still on Saturday (1), 1 of the 2 Chinese aircraft carriers, the Liaoning, made a crossing into the Miyako Strait, where the disputed Senkaku Islands are located – which are uninhabited but have controlled potential oil reserves. by Japan.
Japan’s Defense Ministry criticized the move, calling it provocative, and took the opportunity to complain about the new law governing the Chinese coastguard, which allows an attack on any foreign vessel in waters that Beijing considers to be. his.
According to Peking University’s South China Sea Strategic Research Center, an American destroyer, the USS Mustin, also passed through the Senkaku region in the East China Sea over the weekend. .
The Senkaku are known as Diaoyu by the Chinese and are also claimed with less emphasis by the Taiwanese, who call them Tiaoyutai.
Taiwan, an island that Beijing considers its own, also recorded a spike in tension on Monday (5). At least ten Chinese fighters have entered their air defense identification zone, an area in which countries have the right to require any aircraft to show up, under extreme pain of being shot down.
The Chinese have done so frequently, although there has clearly been no conflict. The idea is to test how quickly and efficiently Taipei sends fighter jets to repel invading planes.
Analysts have also noticed a shift in Chinese tactics. Over the past week, fighters have been seen circling Taiwan, not just testing their defenses against the strait that bears the island’s name and separates it from the mainland.
Over the weekend, the same happened with a Y-8 maritime patrol aircraft, suggesting that China is expanding its knowledge of Taiwanese tactics.
Few people outside the island, however, expect an invasion in the medium term, given the risk of failure and of dragging the United States, allies of Taiwan, into a war that does not concern today. person.