US Secretary of the Navy Carlos del Toro made it loud and clear to Chinese Communist aggressors planning to violate the sovereignty of other countries in the region that they will face “punitive counteractions,” similar to what Russia is currently facing.

US ‘veiled warning’ against China

In an interview this week, Del Toro stated that US troops stationed in the Asia-Pacific region will remain on high alert, particularly in the disputed South China Sea, and will be looking for any aggressions.

The USS Ronald Reagan and her carrier strike group arrived in the South China Sea just days ago to conduct operations.

Carlos del Toro said in an interview Tuesday night in Manila that the US military assigned in the Asia-Pacific region, particularly in the disputed South China Sea, would never slacken and has intensified despite the war in Ukraine.

During his visit to Manila, the US official also renewed assurance on behalf of President Biden that they would honor its obligations under a 1951 Mutual Defense in case Philippine forces, ships, and aircraft are attacked the disputed waters or territory.

Del Toro did not mention China specifically, but the Philippines and Beijing have had alarming territorial tensions in the last decade. Vietnam, Malaysia, Taiwan, and Brunei are also embroiled in disputes with China over strategic waters, shoals, reefs and island in the south China Sea which Beijing is trying to assert complete control over.

“As President Biden has said, if one country violates one inch of Filipino sovereignty, whether it be at sea or onshore or an offshore island, we will be there to support the Filipino nation and the Filipino people in every possible way,” Del Toro said.

Meanwhile, Chinese officials reiterated their warning to the US to “stay away” from what is a purely Asian dispute. To prove the seriousness of the threat, China repeatedly confronts US ship and aircraft engaged in Innocent Passage in international waters that China claims control over.

If the worst-case scenario happened, Del Toro said “that allies and partners will come together to do the same thing” about the military aid Ukraine has been receiving from the West since the Russian invasion in February.

China’s Alarming aggressive behavior

In another report, a Pentagon official underscored the “increasingly aggressive” behavior of the communist party-led state, sending several “unsafe” fighter jets above the disputed territory—not to mention the dozens of “dangerous” incidents this year alone.

“We see Beijing combining its growing military power with greater willingness to take risks,” Assistant Secretary of Defense for Indo-Pacific Security Affairs Ely Ratner said at a Center for Strategic & International Studies conference.

Ratner highlighted the recent accusations from Canada and Australia that a Chinese J-16 fighter performed a “dangerous” intercept near both nations’ aircraft during a “routine maritime surveillance activity” in the international airspace.

Future War: Confrontation in the Pacific Rim

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Last month, the Australian Defense Department said that “the intercept resulted in a dangerous maneuver which posed a safety threat to the P-8 aircraft and its crew.” It also added that the Chinese aircraft released a “bundle of chaff” containing small pieces of aluminum that were ingested into the RAAF aircraft’s engine.

The Pentagon official said she stressed that the incident wasn’t isolated, adding that China’s been showing “aggressive and irresponsible behavior” and threatens peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region.

General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, voiced the same “alarming” concern during his visit to Indonesia.

Aside from the territorial dispute in the Philippine archipelago, the US has been brewing tension with China in recent weeks since the democratic concerns surrounding Taiwan, which Beijing long claimed is part of its communist state.

Most recently, Chinese President Xi Jinping threatened the US over Taiwan, saying that tensions will escalate if House Speaker Nancy Pelosi conducts a planned visit to Taiwan.

Below is an excerpt from the Chinese embassy statement:

President Xi highlighted that the historical ins and outs of the Taiwan question are crystal clear, and so are the fact and status quo that both sides of the Taiwan Strait belong to one and same China. The three Sino-US joint communiqués embody the political commitments made by the two sides, and the one-China principle is the political foundation for China-US relations. China firmly opposes separatist moves toward “Taiwan independence” and interference by external forces, and never allows any room for “Taiwan independence” forces in whatever form. The position of the Chinese government and people on the Taiwan question is consistent, and resolutely safeguarding China’s national sovereignty and territorial integrity is the firm will of the more than 1.4 billion Chinese people. Public opinion cannot be defied. Those who play with fire will perish by it. It is hoped that the US will be clear-eyed about this. The US Shoulf honor the one-China principle and implement the three joint communiques both in word and deed.

After the invasion of Ukraine by Russia, there was rampant speculation that China would use the instability in Europe to invade Taiwan. Here at SOFREP we are of the considered opinion that the Chinese army and navy are not anywhere close to having the capability of successfully pulling off such an invasion.  China recently launched its first large aircraft carrier, the Fujian which is 80,000 tons and conventionally powered instead of nuclear.  This means China will have to build oilers to refuel the ship at sea and they will have to build a strike group of other ships around it to protect it from attack by subs and cruise missiles.  The Fujian is more a national prestige statement than a combat vessel and China will be loath to risk it being sunk and humiliated by such a loss.  In any invasion of Taiwan it would have to be employed and it’s at least 3-4 years away from being completed.