By Mohammad Mazhari

Sino-U.S. military rivalry going on: Pakistani researcher

October 17, 2021 - 19:0

TEHRAN - A researcher at Pakistan’s Centre for Aerospace and Security Studies says that U.S. recent activities in the Asia-Pacific region suggest that a military rivalry with China is already underway.

“China does not want to concede any space to the U.S. in the South China Sea, and recent activities suggest that the military rivalry is already underway,” Ali Haider Saleem tells the Tehran Times.

“The continued support to Taiwan by Washington is a threat to Chinese sovereignty which Beijing will never compromise on.”
Last week a U.S. Special Operations unit and a contingent of Marines were secretly operating in Taiwan to train military forces. 

This development has raised questions about U.S.-China military rivalry and even a possible clash.

Although many pundits say China is reluctant to engage in a military competition, the communist-run country sounds sensitive to U.S. moves in the Asia-Pacific region.

“Militarily, China has grown much stronger than many other regional countries, but it is continuing to enhance its military capabilities as it is wary of the anti-China strategy of the U.S.,” Saleem remarks.

Following is the text of the interview:

How do you assess U.S.-China differences? Why is the U.S. reluctant to acknowledge China’s global position?

For the United States, the transition towards a multipolar world is undesirable as it limits its influence in global affairs. China has emerged as its main challenger, and countries are increasingly aligning themselves with China as it is offering a beneficial and unconditional partnership. China’s growing influence has also been a lifeline for countries being suppressed militarily and economically by the U.S. The U.S. would not like to see its rival gain back strength through the Chinese support, so it attempts to counter its rise but has achieved little success.

On the other hand, China has been able to stretch its influence through BRI and SCO. The SCO has played a critical role in enhancing regional cooperation, and the inclusion of Iran as a full member will further embolden the organization.

“The U.S. presence in Afghanistan did not stop China from increasing its footprint in the region.”Do you think the U.S. is able to curb China’s influence through the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (QUAD)? How do you see the importance of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization in consolidating China’s influence and enhancing its deterrence power?

For the U.S., the QUAD is a tool to counter China in the Asia-Pacific region, but like the U.S., all the major economies in the region and QUAD members cannot ignore China’s economic might. Moreover, India - the main U.S. ally against China - is also a member of the SCO and is well aware that confrontation with China will not be in its interest. Other SCO members are unlikely to involve themselves in the tensions escalating in the Asia-Pacific region. Still, the success of the SCO will encourage countries in other parts of Asia to get closer to China. 

Some experts claim the U.S. withdrew from Afghanistan to leave a destabilized region for China? What is your comment?

The U.S. presence in Afghanistan did not stop China from increasing its footprint in the region. The new situation does pose a challenge for all regional countries, but the withdrawal of the U.S. will also create more opportunities for regional cooperation, which in the long run will be detrimental to U.S. interests.

Don’t you expect Beijing enter military rivalry with the U.S. following China’s economic rise?

Militarily, China has grown much stronger than many other regional countries, but it is continuing to enhance its military capabilities as it is wary of the anti-China strategy of the U.S. Washington’s continued support to Taiwan is a threat to Chinese sovereignty, which Beijing will never compromise. China also does not want to concede any space to the U.S. in the South China Sea, and recent activities suggest that the military rivalry is already underway.

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