Beijing’s fear of an American blockade

Image for representation/Japan Times

According to the reports, Senior Chinese and Western military officials believe, Beijing’s one of greatest concerns is the threat of blockade from the United States and its allies in the event of a conflict or crisis,

As the PLA navy increases its operations into the Indian Ocean, it is also evolving its capability to protect the sea lanes that carry China’s imports of necessary oil and raw materials from Africa and the Middle East.

Flotillas of PLA warships and submarines, often with air support, are also routinely deploying to the Western Pacific on training missions for combat in the waters. Earlier, In 2017, China sent warships to train with the Russian navy in the Baltic Sea.

Senior Chinese officials point to events in the past where the U.S. Navy has threatened China’s merchant fleet. In 1993, the U.S. Navy prevented a Chinese container ship, Milky Way or the Yinhe, in international waters and demanded to board and examine the vessel, assuming it was carrying chemical weapons materials bound for Iran.

After a three week standoff, the Chinese vessel docked at a port in Saudi Arabia, where American and Saudi inspectors didn’t find any chemical weapons materials. The U.S. refused to apologize on grounds that it had taken this action in good faith on the intelligence sources.

“We cannot allow this to happen again,” a source with ties to the leadership in Beijing told American media Reuters. “Beijing needs a strong navy to protect its commercial ships.”

According to the official Chinese trade statistics, China’s two-way trade totalled $4.6 trillion in 2018.

Since 2008, as a part of an International anti-piracy operation, Beijing has deployed ships on 32 escort missions to the Gulf of Aden. In 2017, China opened its first foreign base at the Horn of Africa, in Djibouti, to support its military operations in this region. Chinese submarines and warships are increasingly seen on other patrols in the Indian Ocean.

A navy with a global reach also gives China the capacity to deploy forces to protect its offshore investments, commercial ships and the Chinese diaspora abroad. For instance, In 2015, the PLA navy evacuated almost 600 Chinese nationals and approximately 200 foreigners from Yemen’s southern port of Aden amid fierce conditions.

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The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Kootneeti Team

Melanie Romaro

Melanie Romaro is a Geopolitical Analyst at The Kootneeti. She holds a Masters degree in Political Science & International Relations from the State University of Colorado

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