Washington: The US National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien has delivered a fresh blow to China’s expansionist ambitions. O’Brien said that ‘The US is a Pacific power. China is involved in illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, and many other activities. The Chinese ships enter into maritime boundaries of other nations and harass them. All such activities threaten the sovereignty of the US as well as the sovereignty of our Pacific neighbours and endanger regional stability. Efforts of the US government and US Coast Guard (USCG) are critical to countering these destabilising and malign actions. Their presence in the region is extremely crucial’.
In the last month, China has significantly ramped up its activities in the Pacific. The presence of China’s armed fishing boats (naval militia) along with its warships in the region has increased as well. These battleships and militia are consistently harassing ships of other nations that pass through these waters. In April, Chinese patrol vessels had rammed into a Vietnamese fishing boat. Next, Chinese ships had amassed in the region near Malaysian waters in May. After that, China was found to have carried out such incursions in the Philippine and Indonesian territories too. Reports revealed approximately 300 Chinese fishing boats and vessels sailed near the territorial waters of Latin American nations in August. Given the rising Chinese activities, the US has become more active in the region.
The US had taken up an open confrontation with China while clarifying its stance over the South China Sea in July. The US is a strong proponent of free and open Indo-Pacific. It had directly and strongly rejected all claims of China over the South China Sea, which is a part of this region, calling them completely unlawful. At the same time, the US accused China of infringing territories of other nations in the area, warning it would firmly stand to protect them.
US NSA O’Brien’s statements on the deployment of the US Coast Guard are in line with the US assurance. O’Brien said the advanced vessels of Sentinel Class Fast-Response Cutters would be incorporated in the US Coast Guard and sent to Indo-Pacific. Besides, O’Brien mentioned a proposal had been tabled for building a base on Samoa Island in the South Pacific for Fast-Response Cutters. The National Security Advisor went on to indicate that responsibilities such as maritime security, patrol, surveillance, extending cooperation to regional partners and operations similar to Freedom of Navigation would be shouldered by the Coast Guard ships.
In the last year, the US significantly stepped-up its military movements in the Indo-Pacific. These include the deployment of aircraft carriers, patrols by destroyers and naval surveillance. As it expressed strong resentment over the activities, China alleged the US Navy was trying to dominate the region. Nevertheless, the US ignored China’s statements and has decided to sharply increase its activities in the Info-Pacific with the help of its Coast Guard. The presence of the Coast Guard in the region is believed a clear message from the US to China.