Tensions between Washington and Beijing have escalated in recent months amid a growing number of US Navy “freedom of navigation” missions in the South China Sea.
People’s Liberation Army Academy of Military Science Deputy Director Rear Admiral Luo Yuan has suggested that sinking two US super carriers with Dong-Feng ballistic missiles would resolve the dispute surrounding the East and South China Seas.
Speaking at a Chinese military industry summit on December 20, Luo took aim at the US military, which he described as one of “five cornerstones” of possible US weakness.
Pointing to China’s growing anti-ship and cruise missile capabilities, which he said are now able to get past a carrier’s escorts, Luo said that the destruction of a single carrier would cost 5,000 US servicemen’s lives.
On trade, China has three “bargaining chips,” including soybean exports from Iowa, a state Trump must carry in the 2020 election, the US automotive industry, which he called “second-rate,” and aircraft manufacturing, which is heavily dependent on Chinese purchases.
Last month, a Washington-based think-tank warned that the US Navy was at risk of losing its superiority, given difficulties in countering challenges “posed by great powers like China and Russia.
These threats included the latter countries’ missile capabilities and insufficient US capacity to counter them with existing missile defense systems.
China and half-a-dozen other countries including Brunei, Indonesia, the Philippines, Malaysia, Vietnam, and Taiwan have competing claims over parts of the South China Sea, a strategic and economically crucial waterway through which some $5 trillion in annual global trade passes.
China controls the vast majority of islands, reefs and shoals in the region, and has built a number of artificial islands in a bid to further shore up its claims.
Beijing has insisted negotiating the issue at the regional level, with the USA turning to naval freedom of navigation missions to contest China’s claims.
In a separate dispute, China, Japan and South Korea have competing interpretations of the extent of their respective exclusive economic zones in the East China Sea, another strategically important waterway.
Sputnik / ABC Flash Point South China Sea News 2019.