The Game is Changing and the U.S. is Now on the Defensive

Politics / GeoPolitics
Sep 22, 2010 - 02:55 AM

By: Global_Intel_Report

The People’s Republic of China’s PLAN in the Indian and Pacific Oceans: The Game is Changing and the US is Now on the Defensive

Two warships of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) People’s Liberation Army-Navy (PLAN) docked at a port in Myanmar on August 29, 2010, in the first publicized PLAN ship visit — but not the first actual PLAN visit — to Myanmar.

It was a move designed to help pre-position the PRC in its relations with Myanmar in the lead up to that country’s upcoming national elections. The move also ended two decades of discreet PRC approaches to its naval presence in the Indian Ocean. It also follows the open PLAN task force presence in anti-piracy operations off the Horn of Africa, and the now open commitment to use of the Pakistani Baluchistan port of Gwadar, at the entrance to the Persian Gulf.

Significantly, although the PRC maintains itself as both a heartland and maritime power, it is aware that the great challenge to break out from US global strategic dominance is essentially a maritime matter. Given economic and other realities, the US will be forced to rely increasingly on the US Navy — and particularly the Seventh Fleet in the Pacific and Indian Oceans — to project US influence.

But Washington is also working to bolster its strategic relations with the Republic of Korea, the ASEAN states as a whole, and India. The crunch for the US will be in finding the economic resources to boost the US Navy’s power projection advantages, particularly in the Pacific and Indian Oceans.

An Australian analyst, Dr Joel Rathus, of Adelaide University and Japan’s Meiji University, has noted (in the East Asia Forum, August 28, 1010): “A re-alignment is steadily underway in East Asia. Increasingly, ASEAN (and Korea) are moving closer to the geographically distant US, while China is becoming more distant from its neighbors.