There is a Goliath menacing the western Pacific. China’s construction of three huge artificial islands with obvious military capacity in the South China Sea has already destabilized the security equilibrium in the region. Given the rising tensions and outright challenges to the established international security order in the western Pacific, it is time for the United States to align its Foreign Military Financing (FMF) program with its Pivot to Asia initiative, in order to strengthen the region’s Davids. Foreign Military Financing has already been used to great effect in other regions, such as Europe and the Middle East, to reestablish an equitable balance of power. Now is the time for a substantial increase in western Pacific foreign military aid as well.
Despite frequent protests on the part of regional actors and legal actions in international tribunals, Beijing continues to plow ahead with its wantonly belligerent behavior towards its smaller neighbors, who have legitimate claims over vital food and energy resources in the region. For example, China has attacked, with both water cannons and bullets, native fishermen seeking to make a living in their own territorial waters and internationally recognized extended economic zones. China has also harassed, shouldered, rammed and sunk fishing boats. It has wrought untold devastation on the environment through its destruction of coral reefs as well as its unfettered and unmanaged plundering of fishing stocks, all in waters not its own. In the end, in an act of utmost arrogance, it has invited the very nations it injured to take the initiative and repair their relationships with China. These are invitations to accept the supplicant and suzerain relationships of the earlier Middle Kingdom era, when China exerted outsized influence over the region and trampled its neighbors underfoot.
Read the full article on The National Interest.