As a result of the United States having the USS Lassen travel near one of China’s man made islands in the South China Sea, the already hot war of rhetoric in the region has increased once again. The Global Times labeled the maneuver as a political show and went on to further state that China has no fear of a military engagement with the United States. With such saber rattling occurring, should Washington and its allies in the region fear Chinese aggression if the “freedom of the sea patrols” continue to occur?
Notwithstanding the economic implications that a conflict with china would have for the world, examining what may happen in terms of military action is interesting. China has greatly expanded its A2/Ad capabilities; a move that most observers agree intends to push the United States out of the direct littoral region surrounding China. However, with all of the investment in this strategy, I think that China has severely limited itself. This military doctrine is only effective if the United States were to deploy forces within range of Chinese Dong Feng 21Ds, or that the forces that the United States would deploy would be those appropriate for Chinese to use A2/AD capabilities (Warships, Carriers, and Aircraft).
(EIA)In spite of the advances of the A2/AD capabilities, I think that the current strategy of the United States in the region with regards to alliance building offers an applicable counter. By using the growing alliance and cooperation framework that Washington now has, it would be possible to contain any Chinese naval vessels to the South China Sea, and effectively close any chokepoints throughout the Pacific that the Chinese rely on for energy importation. American assets could effectively act on a policy of “waiting out the Chinese”; letting the countries massive needs on material resources settle the conflict.