News Release

Mattis Visits China While “Provocatively Encircling” It

Pentagon head Jim Mattis is “set to begin a three-day visit to China on Tuesday at a time of rising military tensions between the two countries” reports the South China Morning Post.

MICHAEL KLARE, mklare at hampshire.edu, @mklare1
Klare is professor of peace and world security studies at Hampshire College and the author, most recently, of The Race for What’s Left: The Global Scramble for the World’s Last Resources. He will begin as senior visiting fellow at the Arms Control Association next week.

He just wrote the piece “Girding for Confrontation: The Pentagon’s Provocative Encirclement of China,” which states: “On May 30th, Secretary of Defense James Mattis announced a momentous shift in American global strategic policy. From now on, he decreed, the U.S. Pacific Command (PACOM), which oversees all U.S. military forces in Asia, will be called the Indo-Pacific Command (INDOPACOM). The name change, Mattis explained, reflects ‘the increasing connectivity between the Indian and Pacific Oceans,’ as well as Washington’s determination to remain the dominant power in both. …

“Consider the backdrop to the name change: in recent months, the U.S. has stepped up its naval patrols in waters adjacent to Chinese-occupied islands in the South China Sea (as has China), raising the prospect of future clashes between the warships of the two countries. Such moves have been accompanied by ever more threatening language from the Department of Defense (DoD), indicating an intent to do nothing less than engage China militarily if that country’s build-up in the region continues. ‘When it comes down to introducing what they have done in the South China Sea, there are consequences,’ Mattis declared at the Shangri La Strategic Dialogue in Singapore on June 2nd. …

“In addition to its plans to heighten naval tensions in seas adjacent to China, the Pentagon has been laboring to strengthen its military ties with U.S.-friendly states on China’s perimeter, all clearly part of a long-term drive to — in Cold War fashion — ‘contain’ Chinese power in Asia. On June 8th, for example, the DoD launched Malabar 2018, a joint Pacific Ocean naval exercise involving forces from India, Japan, and the United States. Incorporating once neutral India into America’s anti-Chinese ‘Pacific’ alliance system in this and other ways has, in fact, become a major twenty-first-century goal of the Pentagon, posing a significant new threat to China.”