In the picture above, US Secretary of Defence Ash Carter exchanges a handshake with the Philippine’s Secretary of National Defence, Voltaire Gazmin, aboard the back of a V-22 Osprey as it flies over the South China Sea ahead of the aircraft carrier the USS John C. Stennis.
Altogether, the picture reveals a very big problem for China.
The USS John C. Stennis just returned home from a 7 month deployment in the Indian and Pacific oceans. During its outing, the Stennis exercised with 26 nations in RIMPAC and additional separate exercises, including dual-carrier ops with the USS Ronald Reagan. And in the meantime, China only further isolated itself by ignoring the Hague’s ruling in the South China Sea and by ramping up dangerous and belligerent rhetoric.
The US has lots of friends in the Pacific. Japan, South Korea, India, and the Philippines are all in regular contact with the US Navy. China’s increasingly aggressive and unilateral acts will only draw its Pacific neighbours into closer cooperation with the US.
In short, this pictures reveals China’s huge disadvantage in trying to dictate terms in the Pacific: They have no Ospreys, no modern operational aircraft carriers, and no one to shake hands with.
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