mandag 26. august 2019

China’s South China Sea Militarization Has Peaked

Following years of Russian noncompliance, the United States officially withdrew from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty on Aug. 2. The Cold War-era arms control agreement had banned land-based missiles with ranges between 500 and 5,500 kilometers, and the next day the new U.S. defense secretary, Mark Esper, told reporters that he wanted to counter China’s massive missile inventory “sooner rather than later.” China responded furiously.

Ironically, the threat comes as the most conspicuous flash point between the two countries, China’s military buildup on its artificial islands in the South China Sea, appears to be reaching a peak. In part, this is because of limits on the bases’ military usefulness in future conflict, but the key reason is that the backlash and counterbalancing its militarization encourages from the United States and other countries threaten the islands’ usefulness as a political signal at home, something that the Communist Party may value far more than their actual military potency.