09:31 GMT13 August 2020
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    An article by US Congressman Ted Yoho published by the National Interest website analyzes possible options that the US could undertake in response to the development of Chinese military infrastructure in the South China Sea.

    Yoho carefully analyzes the current situation and existing US arsenal and tries to suggest various options for action in response to the Chinese advance in the region.

    In an interview with Sputnik China, Russian military expert Vasily Kashin said that the article by Yoho shows just how limited, in essence, the available US options are to respond to the strengthening of China.

    In his article Yoho makes an important recognition that the actions taken by the US to contain and punish China can only be one-sided. Organizing collective action is quite impossible because of the success of the Chinese policy in ASEAN.

    “The US will not succeed in receiving support from the regional powers. This reduces the reserve of actions available to the US to quite a limit. The remaining proposals made by Yoho shouldn’t be even brought to light as they are so meaningless,” Kashin said.

    Furthermore, in the article Yoho suggests actions for the US that have already been accomplished by China, such as the construction of artificial islands and the required infrastructure on them.

    “Yoho offers options that are aimed at punishing China, often using plots that have nothing to do with the issue of the South China Sea. Most of the proposed measures can provoke anger in China without really influencing its force or intentions,” the expert said.

    As Kashin pointed out, among Yoho's many suggestions one is to conduct a trade war with China.

    “One option is introduction of sanctions against Chinese companies involved in the construction of the islands,” the expert said.

    Such sanctions [for example, in the financial field] could close the international markets for them and create a situation of blackmail: either participate in the construction of the islands or continue to conduct normal business.

    A key role in construction of the islands was played by a subsidiary of a giant Chinese state corporation, China Communications Construction Company, known also as CCCC Dredging.

    According to Kashin, being a Chinese state-owned company it has no choice in this matter. The management of the company will comply with the requirements of the government — there is no alternative in this case and there cannot be one.

    “Therefore, sanctions against CCCC Dredging and its units are unlikely to have much significance for China at all and sanctions against the entire CCCC, given its scale, diversity of businesses and role in providing trade will push for a full-fledged economic war with unpredictable consequences,” the military expert said.

    According to Kashin, attempts to attack US-Chinese trade as a whole, striking at companies and sectors of the economy unrelated to the subject of the islands, is also likely to cause a trade war leading to an exchange of sanctions and their subsequent cancellations, which would put the US in a bad light.

    Furthermore, apart from creating economic tensions, Yoho also proposed to limit military ties with China by withdrawing the Chinese fleet’s invitation to the RIMPAC exercise in 2018.

    Such a proposal runs counter to the old US rhetoric aimed at developing military contacts with China in order to achieve greater transparency and reduce the likelihood of unpredictable and dangerous incidents.

    “But then again, the most dangerous suggestion made by Yoho in his article was to send American warships to the 12-mile zone around the artificial islands, ignoring the rules of the ‘innocent passage.’ In this case, it is quite possible that there will be a strong response from China with a subsequent crisis. It is also quite possible that the US will be far from ready for such an escalation,” Kashin said.

    The military expert added that any hopes that the Chinese will “get scared and draw back” is simply irresponsible thinking.

    “The People's Republic of China can use not only its navy but also numerous ‘nonlethal’ instruments, among them — naval militia, i.e., the fishing vessels in the reserve of the fleet that can be mobilized to interfere with the movement of enemy ships without the use of weapons [they can ram, create obstacles for theUS watercraft, etc.],” he said.

    If the situation escalates and there is a fight with the militiamen, such as opening fire this would, to a certain extent, undermine the moral and psychological state of the enemy.

    Kashin further said that, in general, the use of US economic warfare methods, which proved ineffective against Russia during the Ukrainian crisis, accompanied by extremely aggressive, chaotic and meaningless gestures, can only “provoke weariness in East Asia towards Washington.”

    “As a result, the US will not be able to punish China but on the contrary it will only help promote Chinese interests,” Kashin concluded.


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