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US attempting to maintain domination of Pacific Ocean to thwart China’s rise: Scholar

Professor Dennis Etler

The United States is doing all that it “deems necessary to maintain its domination of the Pacific Ocean to thwart China’s rise and threaten its overseas supply routes,” says Dennis Etler, an American political analyst who has a decades-long interest in international affairs.

The United States, Japan, South Korea, and Australia have commenced their “first-of-its-kind” combined naval drills in the vicinity of Guam, a US island territory in Micronesia, in the Western Pacific region, amid tensions with China and South Korea.

The military exercise, code-named the “Pacific Vanguard,” kicked off on Thursday, bringing together more than 3,000 sailors from the quartet to “sharpen skills and strengthen practical cooperation at sea,” said Vice Admiral Phillip Sawyer, the commander of the US Navy’s Seventh Fleet, in a statement.

Meanwhile, the US military said it sent two Navy ships through the Taiwan Strait on Wednesday, its latest transit through the sensitive waterway. The US move has angered China at a time of tense relations between the two powers.

Citing a US military spokesman, Reuters reported that the destroyer Preble and the Navy oil tanker Walter S. Diehl had made the passage by sailing from south to north through the 180-kilometer-wide strait, which divides the self-governing island from mainland China.

“The ships’ transit through the Taiwan Strait demonstrates the US commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific,” said a statement from Commander Clay Doss, a spokesman for the US Navy’s Seventh Fleet, adding that there had been “safe and professional” interactions during the transit.

US domination of Pacific Ocean is the linchpin of its policy of containing China

Commenting on these two developments, Professor Etler said on Friday, “One of the consequences of the defeat of Japan in WW2 was that the US completed its conquest of the Pacific Ocean. The US victory against Spain in the Spanish-American War of 1898 established the US as a contender for imperialist control of the world’s largest ocean. Having wrestled control of Guam and the Philippines from Spain it went on to annex the Hawaiian Islands, Wake Island and American Samoa. Nonetheless, Japan and various European colonial powers maintained their position in the Pacific in contention with the US.”   

“This all changed after WW2. With the defeat of Japan, the US obtained bases on the main Japanese Islands and Okinawa. It also inherited the mantle of the Japanese East Asian Co-prosperity Sphere and the British Empire in the Pacific region, adding Australia and New Zealand as Anglo-American surrogates to its inventory of possessions and protectorates. The retreat of Chinese nationalist forces to Taiwan under the aegis of the US in 1949 and the partition of Korea in 1953 completed the US occupation of the entire Pacific Ocean, converting it into a virtual US lake,” he told Press TV.   

“US domination of the Pacific Ocean and its Western periphery is a hallmark of its status as a global hegemon and the linchpin of its policy of containing the spread of Chinese influence in the region. The Pacific Ocean with an area of 62.46 million square miles is the stalking ground of the US 7th Fleet which consists of 60 to 70 ships, 300 aircraft and 40,000 Navy and Marine Corps personnel. By way of contrast, the South China Sea which is claimed by China has an area of 1.35 million square miles and a limited Chinese naval presence,” he stated.   

“As US geo-political contention with China broadens it is going all out to shore up its control of the Pacific region and expand into the Indian Ocean as well. It is thus sending out expeditionary forces to show the flag in the South China Sea, the East China Sea and the Taiwan Strait, in order to display its strength. It is also recruiting its vassals in Japan and Australia, to join with it in naval exercises in the South China Sea and now together with South Korea in the waters surrounding Guam,” he noted.

“All of this is in order to send a message to China that the US is in the region to stay. It will do all that it deems necessary to maintain its domination of the Pacific Ocean and extend its sway over adjacent areas to thwart China’s rise and threaten its overseas supply routes. China has no recourse other than to strengthen its defenses and assert control over its own territorial waters to prevent the US from having a stranglehold over it,” the analyst concluded.

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