US DEFENSE CHIEF EGGS ON ALLIES TO CHALLENGE CHINA
United States Defense Secretary Mark Esper said Tuesday that Washington is counting on Asian partners to help rein in an increasingly aggressive China, as two of the US Navy's most powerful warships conducted drills with allies in the Indian and Pacific oceans, Brad Lendon wrote for CNN late on July 22, 2020.
Esper accused Beijing of bullying nations around the Pacific, depriving countries with claims in the South China Sea of fishing rights and trillions of dollars of oil and gas revenue. He also accused China of "brazen disregard of international commitments." The US also kicked out the Chinese consulate n Houston for alleged “spying.”
"Make no mistake, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has been engaged in this sort of behavior for many years," Esper said. "But today, its true intentions are on full display for all to see." The US defense chief, delivering an online speech to the UK based International Institute of Strategic Studies, said Washington was prepared to uphold its pledge to maintain a free and open Indo-Pacific, banking on a three-pillar strategy to do so: "Preparedness, strengthening partnerships and promoting a more networked region." The partnerships were critically important, said Esper, who called them "a strategic network our competitors cannot match."
That network was on display around the Indo-Pacific as Esper spoke from the Pentagon. In the Philippine Sea, the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan and its strike group were joined by Australian and Japanese warships for joint exercises. And in the Indian Ocean, the USS Nimitz Carrier Strike Group teamed up with four Indian warships to practice communications and air defense drills.