An exclusive CNN report said several US defense officials revealed that "the US Navy's Pacific Fleet has drawn up a classified proposal to carry out a global show of force as a warning to China." The proposal recommends that the US Pacific Fleet conduct a series of operations in a week in November to prove that the US can counter potential adversaries on several fronts.
The draft proposal also suggests sending ships and aircraft near the South China Sea and the Taiwan Strait in freedom of navigation operations. This means US ships and aircraft would operate close to the Chinese military. But the defense officials stressed that they have no intention of engaging in combat with the Chinese.
The Pentagon and the Pacific Fleet refused to confirm or comment on the report. But CNN said there is a classified operational name attached to the proposal, which is circulating in several levels of the military.
Is the Pentagon about to launch a large-scale provocation around the South China Sea and the Taiwan Strait? CNN's report can't be viewed as proof. But the report seems to confirm the US' strategic adjustment toward China. It's highly likely that the US will intensify its provocation against China.
Chinese society is psychologically adapting to the US' strategic adjustment toward China. From the government to the military, it is believed that they are drafting the corresponding plans and making preparations. As a result, no matter how the US is reportedly exerting more pressure on China, China will not be flustered.
Washington must exercise restraint, or China's countermeasures will accelerate. If China enhances activities to dispel US warships, Washington will feel being "provoked" and the pressure on China will shift to the US. That is the cost the US has to pay for escalating provocations.
The strength of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) is formidable in China's offshore areas. And with military deployment on the shores as strategic support, the US military cannot feel as superior in China's offshore areas as elsewhere in the world. They have to weigh China's reactions, which is a tough job.
As the US continues to provoke, it will face stronger reactions from the PLA, and the warships of the two sides will be drawn closer in the situation of confrontation. If that happens, China-US strategic relations and peace in the Asia-Pacific will be in the hands of pilots, ship commanders, and even chief engineers. Peace and stability could be on the edge of collapse at some point.
If Washington wants to play this way, China will have to respond accordingly.
The US should realize that provoking China does it no good. China's ability to build its strategic counter forces hasn't been fully motivated. Once it consolidates its ability, it can easily make Washington feel insecure.
We urge the Pentagon to think about the pressure the US may feel when drafting plans to provoke China. China's offshore areas are not the stage for the unilateral actions of the US Pacific Fleet.