RECENTLY in an apparent bid to impress China, the 97,000-tonne nuclear-powered carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt catapulted 65 F-18 aircraft into skies along with spy planes and helicopters.
Earlier, USS Carl Vinson took part in a massive anti-submarine exercise sojourning in Vietnam waters for the first time since the end of the Vietnam war in 1975. The US is confident that Chinese submarines are so noisy that it can easily target them. China’s Achilles heel is that it has only one operating aircraft carrier.
However, China does have a bitter memory of the First Opium War. In June of 1840, a British war fleet of 16 navy vessels, four armed steamers, 27 transporters, and 4,000 soldiers from Ireland, Scotland and India sailed to South China Sea. They blockaded Canton, besides capturing island of Zhoushen. China surrendered and signed ‘unequal treaty’ of August 29, 1842, to end the war.
The treaty dismantled the Canton single-port system and opened four additional ports for trade (Xianmen, Fuzhou, Ningbo and Shanghai. The British could live there year round, rent property, build homes, and govern themselves. Over the next few years, China had to sign similar ignominious treaties with France and America.
The ostensible purpose of the recent US air show was to counter-poise China’s recent air exercise in South China Sea. The Chinese exercise involved H-6K long-range strategic bombers with a range up to Australia along with Russian Su-35 fighters.
America’s real aim was to bring home to China that it does not care a fig about Chinese occupation of Manila-claimed isles of Mischief Reef (1995) and Scarborough Shoal (2012).
US entente against North Korea, India’s reign of terror in Kashmir and terrorist exfiltration into Pakistan from the Afghan border are windows into US intentions against China and Pakistan.
Published in Dawn, April 26th, 2018