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East China Sea Exercise and the Characteristics of Maritime Engagement

By       Message Muhammad Irfan     Permalink
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The People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) organized a extensive naval exercise in the East China Sea involving around 300 ships, dozens of fighter aircraft and ground troops together with coastal-defense units. The naval drill, which commenced on August 1, involved live-firing performances and the launch of dozens of anti-ship missiles and torpedoes, among other things.

Although the exercise is held by the Chinese navy in East China Sea, yet the area of disputes and contentions with regional and extra-regional powers is in South China Sea. Rationally, the issue evolves two logical questions; what the Chinese navy is doing? And why these maneuvers are being undertaken? Actually, this exercise is the ultimate harbinger of the strategic maneuvers in wake of the perceived doctrinal mind-set; the international system lets state actors to undergo.

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The reason behind it is that a naval exercise in a hostile environment is the result of threat perception by state A against state B, which in return involves variety of counter-measures. Whenever a state perceives threat to its sovereignty and security, the naval exercises are mainly held to demonstrate tri-fold aspects; war preparedness, deterrence and naval diplomacy. All these aspects are actually aimed at projecting the image of being hard to be swallowed and inviting adversary to the normalization. Geoffrey J. Till agrees that mobility of a naval fleet is to ensure the naval preparedness against any critical threat.

Certainly, this is new chapter in the geo-politics of the world the international community in the coming days will observe in the East China Sea. In fact, there are many characteristics of maritime engagements that promptly tempt the regional and global actors to be involved in an oceanic part of the world. These characteristics are as follow: first, the maritime routes are the major source of temptation among the ambitious powers in any water body. Off-course, East and South China Seas are near the cross-roads of the huge maritime transportation from West to East. Second, territorial importance of an island or a water body is significantly important for the states due to their energy-laden richness, geo-strategic location and maritime trans-shipments. Certainly, these are the reason behind why the dispute is nascent between China and the rival group.

Third, certain parts of water bodies in the world are unprecedented in the availability of sea-based foods such as fish. South Chinese Sea can not be excluded in the said realm as it is tangibly linked with the world's largest Pacific Ocean. Fourth, the scenario of the emerging powers around a specific region tempts status-quo powers to consider them as their rival and finally engaged to contain them. Thucydides projected that there is dispute between status-quo powers and the rising powers whenever some state are rising. South and east China Seas are unfortunately witnessing China as the rising super power of the world. This is another factor that fills the region with security competition.

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To conclude, the recent exercise is the direct outcome of the characteristics of the said seas on one hand and the security completion on the other. The rising China tempts USA and its allies to be involved in the region. If extra-regional states involve in the region, the naval engagements are the established fact. Therefore, these engagements would accelerate in future under action-reaction phenomena.

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Muhammad Irfan has authored books; (1) The Global Peace and (2) Fighting A Menace. He is an internationally recognized scholar. He has presented his papers in national and international conferences. He is also a freelance journalist and (more...)
 

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