The United States sails a guided-missile destroyer and a coast guard cutter through the Taiwan Straits on Aug 27, 2021. (PHOTO / US COAST GUARD VIA AP, FILE)
Naval forces from the United States, Japan, Australia, Canada and Germany are reportedly conducting a multilateral exercise off the southern coast of Japan.
During the drills, which began on Sunday and will last till Nov 30, participating naval forces are conducting integrated surface and air engagements, with the aim of ensuring "a flexible, adaptable and persistent combined force capable of quickly projecting power, where and when needed".
The exercise underscores the intensified military presence of the US and its allies in the Asia-Pacific, with its warships conducting maneuvers with unprecedented frequency and growing size and complexity in areas surrounding China.
On Tuesday, a US warship sailed through the Taiwan Straits in what the Pentagon claimed was "a routine transit". Days before that, the US and Japan conducted their first-ever joint anti-submarine warfare training exercise in the South China Sea.
In early October, US carrier strike groups drilled with United Kingdom and Japanese warships in a major naval exercise in the waters off the southeast of Okinawa. All this has been going on under the pretentious pretexts of ensuring a free and open Indo-Pacific and defending the existing international framework.
The target, obviously, is China. Admiral John C. Aquilino, the head of US Indo-Pacific Command, told a forum last week that the US and its allies need to operate with "a greater sense of urgency" in response to what he called China's increasingly assertive military actions.
Yes, the People's Liberation Army Air Force has markedly increased flights of its fighter jets in training around Taiwan this year. But that is meant to deter secessionists on the island in their heightened push for "Taiwan independence".
By claiming the necessary actions taken by China to safeguard its sovereignty and territorial integrity pose a threat to regional peace and stability, the US is hijacking them in its bid to portray China as a saboteur of the rules-based order.
It is the high-handed aggressive maneuvers of the US and its anti-China cliques that are the real risk-makers. In order to contain the country, the US has now deployed over 60 percent of its naval forces in the Indo-Pacific. Washington has also used the G7 and NATO summits, the revived Quad, the Five Eyes intelligence alliance, and AUKUS to try to form a united front against what it hypes as the "China threat".
All this, in addition to its overblown and almost continual military drills in the Asia-Pacific targeting China, has jeopardized peace and stability in the region, and increased the possibility of a conflict between China and the US.
The US and its allies should do some serious soul-searching and ask themselves if their attempts to bully China are really in their best interests. Not only do they risk a showdown, but their trouble-making puts them at odds with countries in the region that have worked hard to overcome their differences so that all of them can enjoy the benefits of regional peace and stability.