U.S. aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan, top right, participates with other U.S. and South Korean navy ships during the joint naval exercises between the United States and South Korea in waters off South Korea’s eastern coast on Sept. 29, 2022.
/ June 29, 2023
In what analysts say is a sign that U.S. lawmakers lack confidence in the Pentagon's preparations for a military clash with China, the House Armed Services Committee gave Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin six months to produce a report to Congress on how the American military could conduct one or more naval blockades on fuel shipments to China during a war.
China relies heavily on foreign imports for fuel. In 2022, five countries — Saudi Arabia, Russia, Iraq, United Arab Emirates and Oman — supplied more than 60% of China‘s crude oil imports.
The communist regime in Beijing has increased imports of discounted Russian crude oil since Moscow’s February 2022 invasion of Ukraine. The oil purchases have helped bolster the Russian economy amid Western sanctions over the invasion.
Tensions between the United States and China remain high over Taiwan. Military leaders have warned Congress in recent testimony that leader Xi Jinping has ordered the Chinese military to be ready to attempt a takeover of Taiwan in four years.
Austin’s blockade report was included in a section of the fiscal 2024 National Defense Authorization Act.
Lawmakers are requiring the Pentagon to report on how China might satisfy its energy and fuel needs after a U.S. blockade is imposed, security correspondent Bill Gertz reported for the Washington Times.
The study, proposed by Rep. Ronny Jackson, Texas Republican, and narrowly approved over Democrat opposition by the full House Armed Services Committee, would also outline the type of naval forces to be used in the blockade and how China might circumvent the blockade using alternate air and land routes.
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