/ August 18, 2022
In the aftermath of a weak Biden administration response to China’s aggressive blockade exercises against Taiwan following the visit of U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the pressure to maintain deterrence in the region has fallen squarely on one man, U.S. Indo-Pacific commander Adm. John Aquilino.
“The destabilizing actions by the PRC as it applied to the threatening activities and actions against Taiwan is exactly what we are trying to avoid,” he said. “I can tell you from my seat, I spend every waking minute doing everything to ensure we are preventing conflict in the region. Every day, we try to prevent war. We’ll continue to help deliver a free and open Indo-Pacific and be ready when we need to respond to any contingency.”
Multiple news outlets in Asia, including The Associated Press, reported on his remarks.
The admiral told reporters in Indonesia: “We’re watching the largest military buildup in history since WWII by the PRC.”
Aquilino led multinational military exercises in Indonesia called Garuda Shield, involving about 5,000 troops and publicly rebutted Chinese claims about U.S. efforts with Australia and the UK to deter China regional aggression.
The exercises are held annually with Indonesian and U.S. military forces. This year’s drills also included forces from Australia, Singapore and Japan, along with observers from nine other nations.
“Our forces, operating together, delivers a deterrent effect against any destabilizing effort in the region,” said Adm. Aquilino, who cited recent Chinese military provocations around Taiwan as an example.
Aquilino is also pushing back against accusations made by the communist government in Beijing that a three-nation pact between Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States (AUKUS), to build nuclear submarines for Australia poses a danger of nuclear weapons proliferation.
Two Chinese government nuclear research agencies, China Arms Control and Disarmament Association and the China Institute of Nuclear Industry Strategy, issued a report in July urging the international community to stand against the nuclear submarine program.
The report said the program must be halted to “safeguard the integrity, authority and effectiveness of the international nuclear nonproliferation regime.”
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