BERLIN/WASHINGTON (Own report) – The US-led RIMPAC 2018, the world’s largest naval maneuver, began yesterday with German soldiers participating. According to the US Navy, the naval exercise will also include operations in the Western Pacific. The region of the Southwest Pacific islands will thus come into focus, which – even though largely ignored by the European public – has been gaining significant global influence. On the one hand, the influence of Western countries has shrunk recently, while that of their strategic rivals, such as Russia and China, has significantly grown. Some Pacific island nations have since then been seeking to pursue a foreign policy independent from the West. On the other hand, the Southwest Pacific has become even more important also for Australia and the Unites States: as the political economic backyard for Australia and “gateway to the Indo-Pacific” for the U.S.A. Germany is also attempting to increase its activities in the region.
While most of the world remains fixated on Syria and Russia, China’s PLA Navy is in the midst of an unprecedented provocation in the South China Sea as a fleet of Chinese warships conducts its 3-day combat war drills in the waters south of Sanya, the southern tip of China’s Hainan Island.
With China’s presence in the waters off its southeastern coast growing increasingly threatening, President Xi Jinping declared on Thursday that the task of building a strong navy “has never been as urgent as present”. His remarks were part of a speech made during the country’s largest fleet review since 1949. Continue reading
Over the last two years, a number of microstates, mainly those located in the Pacific, have introduced a visa-free regime with Russia.
For example, two years ago, the island nation of Fiji canceled visas for Russians, while the Kremlin offered similar terms to hypothetical tourists from Fiji.
A year ago, it was Vanuatu, microstate in Melanesia, that suddenly decided to introduce visa-free regime with the Russian Federation.
And now Mauritius, a distant island in the Indian Ocean close to Madagascar, also readies to join the visa-free club. Continue reading
A 2010 article that foretold what was to come and now is here:
Is U.S. naval power in the South China Sea the unstoppable force it once was?
Thirsting for the oil in the waters that break upon China’s shores, Beijing has recently intensified its claim to the entire 1.3 million square miles of the South China Sea. Since China’s assertion competes with claims by the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan, it has prompted a pledge from the U.S. for increased involvement in the disputes to guarantee free trade and navigation throughout the region. But a Wall Street Journal article about recent military trends in the South Pacific region suggests that Washington’s pledge is insufficiently backed, and more so every month.
PORT VILA, Vanuatu — First it was the Pacific Century, then the Asia Pacific Century, then the Asian Century with a recent nod towards the Chinese Century. Now we are hearing of the Indo-Pacific Century. Hollywood to Bollywood, as one US military officer put it recently.
A great sweep of ocean from India to the eastern shores of California is the strategic big picture, we are told. Continue reading