Nine years after 9/11, the US has shifted its top international priority from terrorism — which failed to gain a single mention — to what Obama calls “our generation’s Sputnik moment”.
The US President said in the address: “Nations like China and India realised that with some changes of their own, they could compete in this new world. Just recently, China became the home to the world’s largest private solar research facility, and the world’s fastest computer.
“But this shouldn’t discourage us. It should challenge us. We have to make America the best place on Earth to do business.”
Alan Dupont, the director of the Centre for International Security Studies at Sydney University, said the Western Pacific is where the major interests of China and the US intersect, with the sea lanes more important because of energy as much as trade.
China’s response is to ramp up its asymmetric capabilities to prevent the US playing a dominant role.
“This is starting to bear fruit. It is going to be very difficult for the US to send war groups to the Taiwan Strait or within reasonable distance of the Chinese mainland without opening itself to unacceptable losses.”
Ultimately, Dupont said, China wants “to push the US into the central Pacific as far as possible.”
China is developing a layered military capability, which will allow it to strike decisive blows against adversaries closer to the mainland and then employ harassing “guerrilla” air and sea tactics deeper in the Pacific to slow U.S. forces rushing to the region.
Many U.S. analysts use the confusing term “anti-access” to describe -China’s strategy, which makes it sound purely defensive. Yes, China wants to deny U.S. access to Asian airspace and waters. But in doing so the Chinese military will itself gain the maneuver space to control the sea and air closer to the mainland and begin to project power farther from its shores.
But while China’s strategy is beginning to take shape, a serious U.S. response is not on the horizon.
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