US Navy Secretary’s call to form new Indo-Pacific fleet riles China


BEIJING: China said on Thursday that US Navy Secretary Kenneth Braithwaite’s call for the establishment of a new naval fleet at the intersection of the Indian and Pacific Oceans is aimed at expanding Washington’s military prowess and defence budgets hyping the “China threat”.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told a media briefing here that “China’s development is an opportunity, not a threat, as it will add to the world’s strength for peace”.

“Some people in the US have got into the habit of hyping up the so-called ‘China threat’, because they need excuses for their expanding military prowess and budget so as to seek regional and global hegemony,” he said when asked for his reaction to Braithwaite’s comments.

He said the US, which has the largest military expenditure, set up military bases all over the world and had frequently claimed to be threatened by others.

“Can anyone think up a more ridiculous logic? We urge the US to discard the outdated Cold War and zero-sum game mindset, view China’s development in an objective and rational way, and play a constructive role for peace and stability in Asia Pacific,” Zhao said.

Earlier, Braithwaite called for the US Navy to establish a new numbered fleet closer to the border of the Indian and Pacific Oceans – perhaps out of Singapore – to more fully address the naval challenges in the US Indo-Pacific Command area of the world, the USNI (US Naval Institute) News reported.

“We want to stand up a new numbered fleet. And we want to put that numbered fleet in the crossroads between the Indian and the Pacific oceans, and we’re really going to have an Indo-PACOM footprint,” Braithwaite said in his address to honour the 245th US Marine Corps birthday at the National Museum of the Marine Corps on October 27.

“The Chinese have shown their aggressiveness around the globe. Every single one of our allies and partners are concerned about how aggressive the Chinese have been. I would argue with anybody that not since the War of 1812 has the United States and our sovereignty been under the kind of pressures that we see today,” he had said.

The Chinese military has been flexing its muscles in the strategically vital Indo-Pacific region and is also engaged in hotly contested territorial disputes in both the South China Sea and the East China Sea.

Beijing claims almost all of the 1.3 million square mile South China Sea as its sovereign territory. China has been building military bases on artificial islands in the region also claimed by Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam.




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