Seas around Taiwan to be center of military movements: defense analyst

05/31/2020 09:33 PM
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CNA file photo
CNA file photo

Taipei, May 31 (CNA) The seas around Taiwan, including the Miyako Strait, the Bashi Channel, the East China Sea, the South China Sea and the Philippine Sea, are expected to become the focus of increased military movements, according to a Taiwanese defense analyst.

Su Tzu-yun (蘇紫雲), a senior analyst at the government-funded Institute for National Defense and Security Research, made the observation in a paper titled "U.S. Strategic Mobility in Deployment to Ensure Regional Security."

In the article, Su said the Indo-Pacific region is facing tensions from 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.

With the absence from the region of U.S. carrier strike groups over the past months due to the pandemic, Beijing's policy of militarizing, nuclearizing and domesticalizing the South China Sea has impacted regional security, stability and the strategic nuclear balance, according to Su.

However, the U.S. Navy announced on May 10 that at least six aircraft carriers have returned to action, including the Harry S. Truman, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Ronald Reagan, Nimitz, Abraham Lincoln and Gerald R. Ford, ending the military vacuum in different regions, Su said.

One thing to watch is how the U.S. adjustments its Indo-Pacific Strategy, 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 U.S. 2018 National Defense Strategy.

Some examples of this include the introduction of U.S. B-1B supersonic heavy bombers to the East China Sea and South China Sea in recent months, including one instance on May 8, in which two B-1Bs flew to the South China Sea via the Bashi Channel and the Sulu Sea in a pincer formation, the article noted.

As to traditional military deployments, the U.S. is seeking to strengthen the battle capabilities of its amphibious assault ships and has deployed anti-ship missiles with its army and marines for waterway blockage when necessary, in support of its navy, Su said.

"The U.S. strategic mindset in countering China's air and sea expansions is through exterior-line operations for multi-directional suppressions," Su observed.

"In terms of geostrategy, the U.S. 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 will be crucial to international politics and regional security in the post-pandemic period, he added.

(By Matt Yu and Emerson Lim)

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