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The United States and China recently kicked off a joint counter-piracy naval exercise near Pakistan in what is quickly becoming the most bizarre relationship between two nations in recent history.The five-day exercise, called “Peace 13” or “Aman 13,” is in concert with 14 participating nations, 20 observer nations, and is what Pakistan bills as necessary to widen and maintain oil trade routes from the Strait of Hormuz.
Pakistan recently approved a Singapore company’s selling of an Arabian Sea port to China, in what has been China’s recent frenzied bid to expand it’s dominance in the area — so frenzied, in fact, that it brazenly vows to “wear out” one of America’s closest allies, Japan.
Chinese frigates on a different side of the world are focused on wearing down their smaller Japanese antagonist, Reuters reports. Japan’s lighter navy, constantly on watch, is tiring due to the constant deployment and redeployment of Chinese frigates.
Meanwhile state-media in China posts photos of the Japanese Isles it wants and runs commentaries calling for all-out war. Even their military generals have become decidedly hawkish in their recent comments — saying they should “kill a chicken to intimidate some monkeys” (interpret that how you will).
On the U.S. side, the navy practices counter-piracy with China and focuses on pivoting upward of 60 per cent of its forces toward “the Pacific” — in what many analysts believe is many to counter Chinese influence.
It may also be to put naval “triad” nuclear assets — submarines — closer to Chinese mainland. A recent report out of the defence Science Board recommended a boosting and hardening of nuclear capabilities, in order to improve the credibility of the “nuclear threat as a deterrent.” A deterrent, in particular, for what it calls “Existential Cyber Attacks” — attacks that could cause the president to “lose control of the country.” Oddly, the phrase existential cyber attacks appears 8 times, nuclear appears 113 times, and China not even once.
Yet the report appeared first in a Washington Post article March 5, just three weeks following a groundbreaking Mandiant report about the Chinese Army hacking American companies and infrastructure.
(The American government said it was both aware of the Mandiant investigation and the defence Science Board report a long time ago.)
As if to make matters more strange, while all this hacking and espionage and investigation and pivoting was going on, the U.S. was conducting regular secret cyber war games with China. The games are aimed at deterrence and prevention of escalation.
Though the war games and studies are held in secret, the statements by officials on both sides have been brutally public — generals calling for war, American politicians calling for sanctions while the Pentagon indirectly reminds China of its nukes.
The relationship has become a passive-aggressive rope-a-dope, except with potentially catastrophic consequences.
Hopefully these bizarre frenemies remain just a sideshow, and not the main event.
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