Crashback | Michael Fabey

Summary of: Crashback: The Power Clash Between the U.S. and China in the Pacific
By: Michael Fabey

Introduction

Welcome to an age of ‘warm war’ where the U.S. and China wage war without guns or politics. In ‘Crashback: The Power Clash Between the U.S. and China in the Pacific’, Michael Fabey sheds light on the battle for the South China Sea and strategic navigation zones. Discover how China’s navy is evolving rapidly, challenging the U.S. Navy in what was once uncontested territory. Learn about the dangerous incidents involving warships and aircraft carriers that could have escalated into full-blown conflict. Witness the delicate balance the U.S. attempts to maintain in asserting its influence while avoiding provocation and hostility.

The Warm War Between the United States and China

The United States and China are engaged in a warm war characterized by official friendship and cooperation alongside provocative acts and warship deployments in the Western Pacific. Although America’s objective is not to vanquish Beijing but to ensure free navigation, China has continued to bully its neighbors and flout international law, particularly in the South China Sea. With prickly rules of engagement in the skies and seas, America has attempted to stand up to China without provoking an incident; a delicate balancing act that has resulted in the United States losing the warm war contest.

Tensions in the South China Sea

The United States and China have been engaged in a complex battle for control over the South China Sea for years. Despite a decade of relative calm, the relationship between the two countries remained chilly. A visit by China’s top naval commander, Admiral Wu Shengli, to a US aircraft carrier in port revealed an underlying mistrust. In 2013, the US missile cruiser Cowpens intentionally approached the Chinese carrier Liaoning, resulting in a dangerous game of chicken between the two superpowers. The incident highlighted a weakness in the US Navy’s approach and exposed the fact that China was willing to risk lives to protect its interests while America was not. As China becomes increasingly assertive in the region, the South China Sea has become a hotbed of conflict and a potential flashpoint for war.

Dominating the Pacific

After the devastating attack on Pearl Harbor, the US Navy took control of the Pacific Ocean, leaving no competition in the region. Japan’s navy was decimated, and other nations had limited reach in the vast waters. The Soviets posed only a minor threat with their submarines. Despite no active war or enemy, the Pentagon still spends heavily on its navy, with an annual budget of $155 billion. The US Pacific Command, responsible for patrolling over 100 million square miles of territory from the South to North Pole and California to India, boasts more than 300,000 enlisted men and 200 ships. The complexity of its operations includes a web of systems for navigation, sonar, radar, weapons, and fuel, with each ship at sea having a similar vessel in port for maintenance, and aircraft carriers being escorted by cruisers and destroyers.

China’s Naval Ambitions

China has spent $200 billion annually to develop a navy built from scratch, challenging US Navy’s supremacy on the high seas. China boasts of new ships, aircraft and technologies every bit as good as the US Navy’s vessels. Their goal is to create an anti-ship missile that can hold off the US navy without launching a single warhead. China is the first nation to pose a challenge to the US Navy since the Cold War period and they have been successful in dominating Asia’s naval forces. While the US navy has not declared China as an enemy, one veteran naval commander described the situation as “you have to remember that you’re in the enemy’s waters.”

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