Russian Sent Flotilla to Support China’s Conflict with the USPosted: April 15, 2019
Reuters column article “COLUMN-China goes unconventional in escalating South China Sea face-off: Peter Apps” says that since December 2018 China has had lots of fishing boats supported by warships or coast guard ships around Zhongye (known as Thitu in the Philippines) Island. Tension is high between China and the Philippines in the South China Sea.
On March 1, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned any Chinese attack on Filipino forces or civilian vessels would trigger a U.S. military response under a 1951 mutual defense treaty.
In early April U.S. Navy sent an assault ship USS Wasp – essentially a small aircraft carrier operating 20 F-35B Joint Strike Fighters and a Marine Expeditionary Force – to exercise with the Filipino Navy.
Does that mean that the US intends to fight China for the Philippines as Pompeo threatened. We don’t know. However, Russia did sent a small flotilla of Russian warships to the South China Sea to conduct military drills there. Is this Russia’s gesture that it will fight the US along with China? It seems so.
A war in the South China Sea is favorable for China and Russia as they have geographical advantages there.
The US will play into China and Russia’s hands as it only have limited ground bases vulnerable to Chinese and Russian air forces. Its aircraft carriers cannot go near China for fear of being sunk by volleys of dozens of Chinese anti-ship ballistic and cruise missiles. WSS Wasp is especially vulnerable as it lacks the heavy armor of aircraft carrier or the defense of the submarines and warships in a carrier battle group.
Sinking a US aircraft carrier with more than 5,000 crew on it will be too shocking an achievement that may give rise to long-term hostility, but sinking a warship like USS Wasp is quite different. The F-35s on the warship may flee to the Philippines while the crew is not large when it is not used as a landing ship.
China does not want a war with the US as China has much interest in its trade with and investment in the US. The trade war may harm China but it may soon be over. Moreover, China is capable of defeating the US in the South China Sea alone without Russian help.
Russia, however, does not have much interest in its trade with the US and has beem put under Western sanctions led by the US. Defeating the US will greatly benefit Russia. That is why Russia sent its flotilla to encourage China to fight the US.
By so doing, it also proves to China that it is China’s true ally.
Comment by Chan Kai Yee on Reuters’ article, full text of which can be viewed at https://www.reuters.com/article/apps-china/column-china-goes-unconventional-in-escalating-south-china-sea-face-off-peter-apps-idUSL8N21U0ZZ