Chinese military exercises in the Eastern Hemisphere are a familiar intelligence concern for U.S. agencies. However, concerns about Chinese militarism are rising as a result of significant increases in its joint operations with Russia and other allies in the last year.
China has substantially increased naval training exercises near Japan and Taiwan in the Pacific and in tandem with Iran in the Indian Ocean. The war games appear to generally model responses to U.S. naval power in the region. Exercises also indicate plans for closing down traffic in the South China Sea in the event of an invasion and occupation of Taiwan.
China’s Defense Minister has directly threatened “all-out war” if Taiwan attempts to actually assert officially recognized independence. The Biden administration has been equivocal about whether the U.S. would support or defend Taiwan in that event.
Japan in particular has sent out alert signals that it is concerned that the Chinese are asserting their naval power as a means of increasing international tensions.
Meanwhile, military operatives in Russia gave indications last month that President Vladimir Putin is preparing that country for a “colossal war with NATO.”
China is also increasing its military ties with nuclear power Pakistan as that nation’s economy is teetering. The officially reported inflation rate in Pakistan exceeds 13.3% and its finance minister has said the country faces financial collapse if it does not soon receive an expected $36 billion loan from the IMF. Pakistan’s precarious condition could put it in a vulnerable position in an alliance with the aggressive Chinese government.
India is highly concerned about what Pakistan’s military connections with China will mean to its difficult border relationship. The Pakistani Chief of Army Staff General recently claimed that his country enjoys a “rock solid alliance” with China.
Analysts believe that China may be using Pakistan as leverage against India to force it to align with Chinese military objectives in the Indian Ocean region. That pressure could threaten the West’s long standing military alliance with India.
China is expected to continue in its diplomatic claims that it is only attempting to lead peace efforts between India, Pakistan, and other nations in the region. That effort may actually be designed to increase China’s ability to operate in the area with a free hand.
In the event that China is able to cement relationships with Russia, India, Pakistan, and Iran, NATO may find it difficult or impossible to use deterrence as a way to prevent regional war. Economic sanctions would likely become much less effective as a means for peacekeeping.