Pentagon Provokes New Crisis With China
Three news features appearing earlier this week highlight tensions between the United States and the People's Republic of China that, at least in relation to the language used to describe them, would have seemed unimaginable even a few months ago and are evocative more of the Korean War era than of any time since the entente cordiale initiated by the Richard Nixon-Mao Zedong meeting in Beijing in 1972.
To indicate the seriousness of the matter, the stories are from Global Times, a daily newspaper published in conjunction with the People's Daily, official press organ of the ruling Communist Party of China, and Time, preeminent American weekly news magazine. Both accounts use as their point of departure and source of key information a July 4 report in Hong Kong's major English-language daily.
On July 6 writer Li Jing penned a news article for Global Times called "US subs reach Asian ports: report," which detailed the following recent developments:
"Three of the largest submarines of the US Seventh Fleet surfaced in Asia-Pacific ports last week, the South China Morning Post reported Monday [July 5]. The appearance of the USS Michigan in Pusan, South Korea, the USS Ohio in Subic Bay, the Philippines, and the USS Florida in the strategic Indian Ocean outpost of Diego Garcia was a show of force not seen since the end of the Cold War, the paper said, adding that the position of those three ports looks like a siege of China." 
The piece from the Hong Kong newspaper cited was entitled "US submarines emerge in show of military might: Message unlikely to be lost on Beijing as 3 vessels turn up in Asian ports," and was in fact dated July 4.
The author, South China Morning Post Asia correspondent Greg Torode, described the simultaneous arrival of three "Ohio-class submarines" equipped with "a vast quantity of Tomahawk cruise missiles" as a reflection of "the trend of escalating submarine activity in East Asia...." 
He further added this noteworthy data: "Between them, the three submarines can carry 462 Tomahawks, boosting by an estimated 60 per cent-plus the potential Tomahawk strike force of the entire Japanese-based Seventh Fleet - the core projection of US military power in East Asia."
The author quotes without identifying his name or nation a veteran Asian military attache with reported close ties to both Chinese and U.S. military officials: "460-odd Tomahawks is a huge amount of potential firepower in anybody's language.
"It is another sign that the US is determined to not just maintain its military dominance in Asia, but to be seen doing so...that is a message for Beijing and for everybody else, whether you are a US ally or a nation sitting on the fence." 
On July 8 Time magazine's Mark Thompson elaborated on the earlier report with language, including that of his title, "U.S. Missiles Deployed Near China Send a Message," derived from the South China Morning Post piece, which Thompson claims contained information planted by "U.S. officials...on July 4, no less"  in a clear signal to the government in mainland China.
The Time journalist added details, though, not in the original story, replete with a good deal of editorializing that perhaps serves the same source he attributes the contents of the Hong Kong article to and for the same reason: As a shot across the bow to China.
His account of last week's deployments included: "A new class of U.S. superweapon had suddenly surfaced nearby. It was an Ohio-class submarine, which for decades carried only nuclear missiles targeted against the Soviet Union, and then Russia."
The U.S. has eighteen nuclear-powered Ohio class ballistic missile submarines, fourteen still armed with nuclear warhead-tipped Trident missiles and four which "hold up to 154 Tomahawk cruise missiles each, capable of hitting anything within 1,000 miles with non-nuclear warheads."
"The 14 Trident-carrying subs are useful in the unlikely event of a nuclear Armageddon, and Russia remains their prime target. But the Tomahawk-outfitted quartet carries a weapon that the U.S. military has used repeatedly against targets in Afghanistan, Bosnia, Iraq and Sudan." 
With the arrival of the USS Ohio in the Philippines, the USS Michigan in South Korea and the USS Florida "in the strategic Indian Ocean outpost of Diego Garcia"  on the same day, "the Chinese military awoke to find as many as 462 new Tomahawks deployed by the U.S. in its neighborhood."