What Washington's China Consensus Obscures
Dissent is prevalent in Washington. Maybe that’s a good thing.The reasons for this emerging consensus are seemingly obvious. Economically and militarily, not to mention in terms of democracy, freedom, and human rights, Beijing is seen by lawmakers in Washington as an existential threat to U.S. interests—so much so that both the Trump and Biden administrations made taking a tougher stance on China among their top foreign-policy priorities.
© MARK SCHIEFELBEIN/AFP via Getty Images File photo: A type 094 Jin-class nuclear submarine of China’s People's Liberation Army Navy participates in a naval parade to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the founding of PLA Navy, off the coast of Qingdao, Shandong, China, on April 23, 2019.
China's nuclear-powered submarines may have been using the U.K.'s aircraft carrier group for target practice before intentionally revealing themselves to British warships, a Communist Party newspaper said on Monday.
The report by the state-owned tabloid the Global Times cited unnamed experts in a direct response to a report out of London claiming the Chinese submarines had been detected "stalking" the Queen Elizabeth Carrier Strike Group (CSG) during its deployment to Asia.
Tensions flare as Chinese flights near Taiwan intensify
TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) — With record numbers of military flights near Taiwan over the last week, China has been showing a new intensity and military sophistication as it steps up its harassment of the island it claims as its own and asserts its territorial ambitions in the region. China's People's Liberation Army flew 56 planes in international airspace off the southwest coast of Taiwan on Monday, setting a new record and capping four days of sustained pressure involving 149 flights. The actions came as China, with growing diplomatic and military power, faces greater pushback from countries in the region and as Taiwan pleads for more global support and recognition.
The Daily Express reported on Monday that sonar operators onboard HMS Kent and HMS Richmond, two frigates that form part of HMS Queen Elizabeth's escort fleet, detected a pair of PLA Navy Type 093 submarines shadowing the carrier group from the South China Sea into the Western Pacific.
After transiting the Luzon Strait, a third Type 093 was pinged by the carrier group's Astute-class submarine escort, reported the Express, which said the Chinese warships were detected by their unique propeller sounds. © POPhot Jay Allen/Royal Navy File photo: An F-35B fighter jet lands on HMS Queen Elizabeth whilst the aircraft carrier conducts a double replenishment with RFA Tidespring and HNLMS Evertsen on July 29, 2021. POPhot Jay Allen/Royal Navy
In a quick retort just hours later, the Global Times, which espouses some of Beijing's more hawkish views, sought to dismiss suggestions the Chinese naval assets had been caught unawares during their mission to shadow the British carrier strike group.
US-China challenge: Easing tensions despite differences
BEIJING (AP) — In a relationship as fraught as America’s and China’s, just an agreement that talks were productive was a sign of progress. Nine months into Joe Biden's presidency, the two sides finally appear to be trying to ease tensions that date from the Trump administration — though U.S. complaints about Chinese policies on trade, Taiwan and other issues are little diminished. A closed-door meeting in Zurich on Wednesday between senior Chinese foreign policy adviser Yang Jiechi and White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan was not accompanied by the public acrimony on display at earlier meetings.After the six-hour talks, the U.S.
"As a necessary measure of defense, it is possible that the PLA used the HMS Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier strike group as an imaginary target for practice," an unnamed expert told the newspaper.
"It is also possible that the Chinese submarines intentionally revealed themselves after having accomplished their missions, sending a warning to the U.K. carrier group," the report continued.
The Royal Navy's Queen Elizabeth CSG, which is on its maiden voyage to the Indo-Pacific, is on a port visit in Guam while some of its escorts docked at naval bases in Japan.
Echoing sentiments expressed by the Chinese government, the Global Times said the U.K. sent its warships to Asia in order to "flex its muscles" and "stir up trouble."
A nuclear submarine deal that China would actually respect
Taking decades to build a new submarine will give China the opportunity to change the strategic calculus long before then.After a wildly successful rollout of the plan to equip the Australian Navy with nuclear-powered submarines, which was both brilliant in design and a bold strategic signaling win, comes the recent statement from Adm. Michael Gilday, the chief of naval operations: "This is a very long-term effort that'll be decades, I think, before a submarine goes in the water." Talk about pulling the rug out from under our own two feet, not to mention our allies.
London, meanwhile, sees the deployment as a sign of the country's commitment to collective security in the region. Last month, Britain announced the permanent deployment of two warships to the Indo-Pacific are beginning at the end of August.
HMS Queen Elizabeth, the Royal Navy's flagship, has been closely watched by observers in Asia since it sailed into the South China Sea, which China claims through its "nine-dash line." Scrutiny by Beijing appears to have been expected.
U.K. Defense Secretary Ben Wallace told The Times of London on July 30 that British warships would "sail where international law allows."
"It's no secret that China shadows and challenges ships transiting international waters on very legitimate routes," he said. "We will respect China and we hope that China respects us."
British forces are taking part in this month's U.S.-led Large Scale Global Exercise 21—also known as LSGE21—which also features Australian and Japanese troops. The drills to increase inter-operability between the armed forces began on August 2 and will run through August 21, according to U.S. Indo-Pacific Command.
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Biden holds Trump's line when it comes to China .
President Biden has made sharp departures from Trump administration policies in many areas - but not when it comes to China.Biden has kept former President Trump's tariffs on China in place and is now working to enforce the "phase one" trade deal reached by the previous administration. His decision to follow through on the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan - of which Trump was the original architect - also allows his administration to focus U.S. resources abroad on countering China's growing influence.