The Indian Ocean and the Pacific are known as the Indo-Pacific region are very important in many ways. The region accounts for 60% of the world's gross domestic product (GDP) and contributes two-thirds to global economic growth. Tensions are running high as the region has become a showcase for the superpowers. It is unimaginable how new military tensions are emerging in the Indo-Pacific region.
In the next 10 years, the Indo-Pacific region will be home to two-thirds of the world's population and two-thirds of the world's economy will be in the hands of the Indo-Pacific region. That's why the United States is committed to ensuring free movement in the region so that all countries can trade using this waterway and enter the world market. The position of the United States has simultaneously ensure good governance, human rights and civil liberties.
The Indo-Pacific is crucial not only for the future security of the United States but for the entire world. Since the 1990s, U.S. governments have taken steps to maintain a strong military presence in the region. Four of the five major security risks identified by the United States as a priority area in the region. These are China, Russia, North Korea and some extremist armed groups. But now the United States is losing its military superiority in the region as the number of strategic weapons deployed by the United States is dwindling.
On the other hand, China is trying hard to establish its military dominance over the United States in the region. At any time in the future, China may take unilateral steps to establish its control. If the current situation deteriorates and the situation turns against the United States, then the US forces will not be able to respond appropriately to China's move. The United States considers this as a matter of concern and risk.
Admiral Philip Davidson, commander of the U.S. Armed Forces' Indo-Pacific Command, warned at a recent Senate and Service Committee hearing. Admiral Philip Davidson said China was increasing its military presence in the Indo-Pacific region. They can become aggressive at any time. China recently said it would increase its defence budget by 6.8% this year.
General Davidson said China is rapidly expanding its navy. By 2025 they will be able to deploy three aircraft carriers. The list he presented to members of the Senate committee shows that China's wealth in the Indo-Pacific region is growing abnormally. Admiral Philip Davidson presented his report to the Senate committee at a time when China is waging aggression around Taiwan.
In the current context, Admiral Davidson said the United States should examine whether it should change its long-standing policy of strategic ambiguity and what the United States should do if China invades Taiwan.
The policy of strategic ambiguity followed for the last 40 years has helped Taiwan to maintain its current status quo. A policy always has to be kept under review but I would like to emphasise dialogue or discussion. A spokesman for Admiral Davidson said Davidson had a general discussion of the overall situation. He did not stress the importance of changing the policy pursued by the United States.
Asked if the United States and China would be involved in a war centred on Taiwan, Admiral Davidson said China had multiplied its nuclear capabilities several times over the past two decades. If their progress continues, China will overtake the United States in terms of nuclear weapons by 2030.
Senator Tom Corton, who was deported from Arkansas, said the United States could deploy 800 nuclear weapons under new terms added to new Transcom technology, but that China had no control over the deployment. If they increase their weapons stockpiles three or four times, there is no way to stop it. Some analysts say that before the end of this decade, China will surpass the United States in terms of the number of nuclear weapons.
Senator Tom Corton asked Admiral Davidson whether analysts' estimates were correct. In response, Admiral Davidson said it would be possible if China increased its stockpile of nuclear weapons several times. Some analysts have questioned the accuracy of the calculations, saying the United States will always be ahead of China in terms of nuclear weapons. An expert on China at the Center for Strategic and International Studies said that even if China increased its stockpile of nuclear weapons several times, it would not exceed 900. This number is much lower than in the United States.
Under the new START agreement, the United States will be able to deploy 1,550 nuclear weapons. He added that the country currently has a stockpile of 3,700 nuclear weapons. So China lags far behind the United States in terms of nuclear weapons stockpiles.
New US President Joe Biden has sharply criticised China for increasing its military activities in Taiwan and the Southeast China Sea. He held talks with Japan, Australia and India last Friday on how to deal with China in the Indo-Pacific region.
Last month, two US aircraft carriers conducted training exercises in the South China Sea. This is the second US exercise in the area since 2012. The US warships entered the Taiwan Strait after Chinese warplanes and bombers flew over the USS Theodore Roosevelt.
Rear Admiral Michael Studman, the intelligence chief for the U.S. military's Indo-Pacific Command, said China was equating the disputed islands in the South China Sea, including Spratly Island. At the same time, they are deploying surface-to-air missiles and cruise missiles.
Rear Admiral Michael Studdman also said that China would deploy warplanes on Spratly Island. He said that in 2015 President Xi Jinping had promised not to arm the islands in the South China Sea but now they have deployed warplanes there as well.
Studdman thinks that first China will take a few warplanes there, then they will turn the area into a fortress. We are not doing anything to deter them from deploying as many weapons as they want. However, Admiral Davidson emphasised the need for the Pacific Defense Initiative to counter China's growing military presence in the Indo-Pacific region. As part of that initiative, the United States has allied with Japan, Australia and India.
Admiral Davidson said it would not only be a military alliance, but they would also work together to solve international problems, including the global economy, telecommunications and the Five-G. The alliance will work for the development and security of not only the United States but the entire world, said Admiral Davidson. It remains to be seen how the United States can deal with China's presence in the Indo-Pacific region.
Md Tareq Hasan is a student of Rajshahi University
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinions and views of The Business Standard.