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Growing US-China animosity

Dr. Jamil Ahmed Khan

The writer is a former ambassador, senior analyst and international affairs expert.

China has gradually emerged as the world’s largest manufacturing and trading nation. Apart from rapidly reaching unprecedented economic goals, its military strength has also been increasing by ten percent annually. With the multi-billion Belt and Road Initiative, China is now laying a vast network to develop its trade and commerce across the world.

China has expedited the mega-project which has raised concerns among United States policymakers who have signed deals with other countries to stop the growing Chinese influence. These agreements are not just dangerous for the region but could lead to turmoil across the world.

The United States, Britain, and Australia have recently signed a military agreement that would push the region into a nuclear arms race by providing Australia with nuclear-powered submarines. No regional country, including China, has these submarines which could stay underwater undetected for several months. This has also exposed China’s military weakness and could aggravate regional security.

The situation looks just the past when the United States tried to gain an upper hand in space. After Russia and China entered the space race, the US is attempting to maintain its military dominance in the South China Sea and the Indian Ocean by providing nuclear submarines to its allies. These can be used against the Chinese whose influence has unnerved other regional countries.

This nuclear submarine deal will once again intensify the nuclear arms race in the region. North Korea has tested an unidentified ballistic missile that fell into the sea outside Japan’s economic zone. This has once again raise apprehension over the North Korea nuclear programme.

There is also increasing hegemony and the region has begun to heat. Besides the US-UK-Australia dead, there is the emergence of the Quad – a four-nation alliance including the United States, India, Japan, and Australia. However, China has strongly objected to this alliance and will be forced to further strengthen relations with its allies. In this regard, Pakistan will emerge as its biggest ally.

The world’s largest and influential countries have considerable military power including land, air, and sea to fight a war. While the Chinese has a lower number of aircraft, it has long-range fighter jets which can suddenly strike and damage American aircraft. There is stiff competition in the skies as aerospace technology has greatly increased. Both countries have begun expanding their technology and power in the ocean to maintain dominance due to the growing challenges.

The submarine being brought to the Indian Ocean is called high-enriched uranium (HEU)-powered submarine equipped with a reactor to provide nuclear fuel for several months. The United States is also trying to placate its ally France who was displeased after Australia cancelled the submarine agreement with them. This led to an intense diplomatic standoff but it seems that France, being a strong NATO country, will again become part of the alliance.

There is a possibility of a clash amid the rising hostilities. This has heightened concerns of a second Cold War. We need to be remain vigilant and show restraint so that Pakistan is not dragged in the ongoing animosity between the major powers and gets into serious trouble.