Posted by: mulrickillion | January 17, 2012

Call for US naval build-up in South China Sea

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By Jim Lobe, Jan 12, 2012 — WASHINGTON – While much of the world’s attention has been focused on United States-Iranian tensions over the Strait of Hormuz, a key think-tank is urging Washington to devote more focus and resources on another important hub for international commerce several thousand kilometers to the east.

In a major report released here on Tuesday, the Center for a New American Security (CNAS) called for Washington to pursue a policy of "cooperative primacy" in the South China Sea in order to both avoid future conflict with Beijing and preserve freedom of navigation and the independence of smaller countries in the region.

The 115-page report, "Cooperation from Strength: the United States, China and the South China Sea", also calls for the US to increase its naval fleet from 285 warships to 346 vessels over the coming years in order to counter regional perceptions that it is a declining power.

"Diplomatic and economic engagement with China and others will work better when backed by a credible military posture," according to the report, which was pulled together by Patrick Cronin, the senior director of the Asia-Pacific Program, who also stressed that any naval build-up "must be contingent on healthy economic growth in the future – a strategic priority for the United States".

"As the decades-old rules-based system fostered by the United States is being called into question by a rising China, the South China Sea will be the strategic bellwether for determining the future of US leadership in the Asia-Pacific region."

The report follows last week’s release by President Barack Obama of a new, cost-cutting national defense strategy that confirmed his intention to "pivot" or "rebalance" Washington’s global military forces "toward the Asia-Pacific region", and is certain to be read carefully by regional specialists due to the close ties that exist between CNAS and the administration. . . .

Asia Times Online: Call for US naval build-up in South China Sea

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