By THERESE SHAHEEN July 8, 2020 6:30 AM
Beijing has made no secret of its ambition to dominate the strategically vital region. The U.S. can’t let that happen.
Over the July 4 weekend, China’s navy conducted military exercises in the South China Sea, near disputed islands over which Beijing has claimed economic sovereignty. The United States, which, like almost every other country on Earth, rejects China’s claim to the islands, responded with a show of force of its own, sending two aircraft-carrier battle groups to the area.
The world tends to focus most intensely on visible military manifestations of China’s aggressive regional strategy such as last weekend’s standoff. But the economic underpinnings of the strategy are just as important. The Chinese Communist Party has taken a rapacious, neo-colonial stance toward impoverished South Pacific countries, and the U.S. and its regional allies are starting to wake up to the dangers this stance poses.