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|A frigate detachment of the People's Liberation Army Navy Southern Theater Command conducts live-fire exercise in undisclosed waters, January 25. The Southern Theater Command is largely tasked with projecting power across the South China Sea. (Photo: Newsweek)|
Newsweek Journal recently reported on the three-pronged approach of the People's Liberation Army toward its expansive naval seaborne power. Hillson broke down this triple threat and explained how it's being used — alongside the People's Liberation Army Rocket Force — to enforce Chinese interests in contested territories Beijing claims as its own, such as the Bien Dong Sea (internationally referred to as the South China Sea).
"The entirety of People's Liberation Army Navy growth in both capacity and capability is concerning," U.S. Navy Assistant Chief of Information Commander Courtney Hillson told Newsweek in a statement.
"China deploys a multilayered fleet that includes the PLAN, the China Coast Guard, and the People's Armed Forces Maritime Militia — naval auxiliaries disguised as civilian vessels — to undermine other nations' sovereignty and enforce unlawful claims," she said. "It continues to coerce vital resources from the exclusive economic zones of other nations, militarize disputed features in the South China Sea, and develop the world's largest missile force."
Ms. Hillson asserted that the U.S. Navy would continue to transit the disputed areas and push back against Beijing's efforts to consolidate its footprint in the South China Sea, where the People's Liberation Army has established military installations on contested reefs, islets, and other flashpoints.
|The Theodore Roosevelt and Nimitz Carrier Strike Groups steam in formation on scheduled deployments to the 7th Fleet area of operations in the South China Sea. The U.S. Navy has vowed "to fly, sail, and operate anywhere international law allows." (Photo: Newsweek)|
"The United States Navy continues to fly, sail, and operate anywhere international law allows," she said.
Washington and Beijing have so far avoided any major confrontations in recent years, but the U.S. military routinely conducts "freedom of navigation" operations that challenge Chinese claims to the South China Sea as well as in the waters off the coast of Taiwan.
The Biden administration has followed the Trump administration in prioritizing the perceived threat posed by China as a primary foreign policy track and has called for stronger ties with friendly nations in the region such as Australia, India, and Japan, which, along with the U.S., make the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue. The country was described in the "Interim National Security Strategic Guidance" from the White House as "the only competitor potentially capable of combining its economic, diplomatic, military, and technological power to mount a sustained challenge to a stable and open international system." At the same time, the current U.S. leadership has discussed opportunities for bilateral cooperation between the world's top two economies in certain fields.
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