South China Sea crisis: How US military overpowers China in the region



SOUTH CHINA SEA competition between the US and China has thrown up vicious verbal wars between the two superpowers – but according to one expert – President Xi Jinping is reluctant to allow for military escalation due to the superiority of President Donald Trump’s forces.

While the Chinese Navy continues to aggressively assert its authority upon other smaller nations in the South China Sea, military combat is something that Beijing is desperately trying to avoid as Beijing looks to build the ever-growing Chinese economy. Asian politics expert Professor Kerry Brown told “China doesn’t want an escalation with the US, they do not want any military fight.”

“This is because they know they wouldn’t easily win. It is more likely they couldn’t win because the capacity difference between their militaries is huge.

“Secondly, China is still developing its economy. That’s their priority, and any conflict would certainly be detrimental to that.”

China’s economic influence throughout the world is vast as the country continues to build its Belt and Road Initiative, an ambitious project that has created trade routes linking back to China in South-east Asia, Eastern Europe and Africa, and includes 71 countries.

Professor Brown also highlights that while a large force, China’s navy has never experienced real combat before, which could lead to strategic frailties when compared with the US forces.

He continued: “The bottom line is that China has never actually had combat at sea. “It may have this amazing Navy that has all this new kit, but it is like someone who has bought a massive Ferrari or something and doesn’t know how to drive it.

“I think China may act very bold but it must nag that they have no combat experience at sea, I don’t think in the whole of history it has successfully fought a naval battle.

“So this is a big issue for China, and the US’ technological superiority is massive.”

The Diplomat reports that the US has significantly increased its operations in the region since Mr Trump took office, increasing navigation operations and dispatching destroyers to the Paracel and Spratly Islands, which China claims ownership of.

Furthermore, while China’s audacious movements in smaller nation’s claimed territory has gone unopposed at times, these nations remain confident they can thwart Beijing’s plans should any dispute boil over into hostility.

While balancing their economic interests with China alongside security links with the US, nations such as the Philippines and Vietnam have a valuable friendship with the US which acts as its own deterrent to China.

Professor Brown added: “Even with the Trump White House there are security agreements in place, most partners in the region will feel that if it is likely there is an issue in the region there will be some help from America.

“Therefore it’s not critical that they buy expensive weapons, that will only really be a deterrent, and China’s objective is not to have a military conflict with others.”

China has aggravated smaller nations in the region due to its Nine-Dash Line waters claim.

Within the Nine-Dash Line lie the Spratly Islands, and they form the heart of a complex dispute due to their location near coasts off Vietnam, the Philippines and Malaysia.

The area holds importance for the nations in the region due to its oil and minerals rich waters as well as lucrative shipping lanes.