(National Sentinel) Defense: President Donald J. Trump campaigned on a pledge to dramatically increase U.S. defense spending and, in particular, add about 100 warships to the U.S. Navy.
Following a successful joint naval drill in the South China Sea, Russia and China have pledged to massively boost cooperation with each other, with more “enormous” joint drills coming in the future, as reported by the blog Forward Observer:
Russia and China are planning “enormous” and “important” joint military events in their future, after a meeting in which the countries agreed a military “roadmap” until 2020. The superpowers completed a mass naval drill in the disputed South China Sea in September.
“It is important that Russia and China are ready to defend the world with mutual efforts and strengthen international security,” Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu told the Interfax news agency at a meeting with his Chinese counterpart in Kazakhstan.
“Our experts have prepared a roadmap for development in the military sphere between Russia and China in the years 2017-2020,” Shoigu said, addressing journalists alongside Chinese General Chang Wanquan, as Newsweek noted further.
The Chinese general told Interfax that both countries were planning “enormous, important events” but did not give further details on what these would entail.
“In recent years, under the personal guidance of our heads of state, the level of cooperation and trust between the armed forces of China and Russia have continuously increased. The scope of our cooperation is constantly expanding and the trend of developing military cooperation have maintains a good trajectory,” Chang continued.
Both countries have been working to boost their political and military ties in recent years. Throughout the Cold War, despite the fact that both nations embraced communism, they were not necessarily allies, either, having fought several border skirmishes that nearly led to World War III in the late 1960s.
But times – and political circumstances – do often change, and today neither country alone poses enough of a threat to the United States to force Washington to rethink its global responsibilities or shirk from them, especially as it pertains to China’s claims on all of the South China Sea, through which $5 trillion worth of trade annually passes.
But together? That’s a game-changer.
Still, as Newsweek noted further, not all experts are convinced that a long-term trusting relationship between Beijing and Moscow is possible:
Though the countries were allied in the Soviet era, the extent of their cooperation since the Communist bloc’s collapse provokes skepticism among some analysts, who question whether the two countries trust each other enough for any long-term political ventures. However, since losing influence with many European countries since 2014 over the conflict in Ukraine, Russian President Vladimir Putin has shown a sustained effort in courting leaders and economies in the Asia Pacific regions.
Time will tell. Either way, the president’s desire to substantially beef up the U.S. Navy, which will be called upon first to confront any substantial threats to freedom of navigation in Asia (and anywhere else), should become a bipartisan congressional priority.