The US’s Deployment of Anti-Submarine Aircraft to Singapore Is Harmful to Southeast Asia

The U.S. and Singapore issued a joint statement from Washington on Dec. 7. Singapore agreed to [allow] the U.S. to perform regular, short-term deployments of P-8 anti-submarine surveillance aircraft from Singapore.

In its strategy of “rebalancing the Asia-Pacific,” the U.S. is adding weight to the Singaporean scale. The P-8 anti-submarine surveillance aircraft have already appeared over the South China Sea; prior to this, they had mostly taken off from military bases in the Philippines and Japan. Singapore has become its new station, a more favorable place for the U.S. to conduct its reconnaissance. The U.S. has issued a signal that it will be involved in military affairs during the night, and this will increase the pressure on China to influence local countries’ attitudes toward the future.

China is more than capable of military deployments in the South China Sea, but the U.S. can throw more force into this region – I’m afraid this is its tendency. By the time China’s military strength is powerful enough for the U.S. to increase the strength behind its participation in the region, the situation could change a great deal. Singapore has increased its toying with U.S.-Sino relations regarding the “rebalancing of the Asia-Pacific.” As the P-8 aircraft are clearly being aimed at China, Singapore is relying more closely on the U.S. for security. U.S.-Singaporean relations have grown recently; military cooperation and increased synchrony between the two countries strangely resembles the increased economic cooperation between China and Singapore. Singapore is apparently confident enough in itself to walk the tightrope of U.S.-Sino relations.

Singapore has grown its economy through cooperation with China. Its security [is maintained] through being an ally or quasi-ally of the U.S. It has become one of the most typical examples in the region. Chinese and American influence over Singapore overlaps in unusual ways. This is both usual and unusual, because, after all, the P-8 anti-submarine aircraft threatens China’s military security. Singaporean-U.S. relations should only go as far as protecting Singapore’s security, and should not actively harm Chinese security. The South China Sea is the front line of China’s construction of a blue-water navy. Regarding the dispute over the existence of territory in the South China Sea, some people mistakenly believe that China’s development of their navy is to “proclaim China as having hegemony of the South China Sea,” and the U.S. is very happy to create and reinforce this belief. The U.S. is increasing the amount of its deployment bases surrounding the South China Sea, “encircling” China’s strategic bases there – it seems like this is the U.S.’s next big “game of chess.”

Southeast Asia is the focus of China’s [attempt at] expanding good relations. Southeast Asian countries wanting a balance between the U.S. and China is potentially understandable, but they should guard themselves against being unconsciously pulled into America’s strategic games with China. China is striving to develop new kinds of power relations with the U.S., but even if the military games between the two countries intensify in the future, they do not have to unfold in the South China Sea. It may be the case that U.S.-Sino military affairs in the South China Sea oppose the interests of Southeast Asian countries. The countries here in Southeast Asia do not wish for the South China Sea to be the most concentrated region for military exercises in the world, or for the region to have the highest risk of potential conflict.

Along with China’s increase in power, the actual significance of the U.S. conducting deployments in the South China Sea and surrounding region is in decline. The Chinese people have already adapted to the exertion of mental pressure. China is following the prescribed order to develop itself; it is no longer liable to impulse or anger – everything we do is to satisfy the practical needs of China, and not only is it difficult to do, but the power required to do so is ample. China is neither showing off nor holding a grudge; our security relies more on [our] own on strategic plans than relying on other countries’ attitudes.

China’s sudden rise to power has incurred a lot of pressure; the way to control the roots of this pressure will allow China’s development and power accumulation to take another great step forward. In the course of these events, we should do more work globally to explain China’s rise, including [the ideas] that China’s military rise is part of the normal course of events, that it is a resource for world peace and construction of public order and that it will be a benefit to the whole world, especially its neighboring countries. Certain countries currently do not understand this, and we need to continue to be patient about this; after all, China is grasping the initiative to resolve disputes more and more.

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