Defence

US Indo-Pac Command identifies $20bn wish list to deter China

Despite the ongoing turmoil caused by the coronavirus, Indo-Pacific Command, the largest US combatant command, has outlined a $20 billion wish list to counter the rising challenges posed by an increasingly assertive Beijing.

For the first time in nearly a century, two great powers stare across the vast expanse of the Pacific, the incumbent heavyweight champion – the US, tired and battle-weary from decades of conflict in the Middle East – is being circled by the upstart – China, seeking to shake off the last vestiges of the ‘Century of humiliation’ and ascend to its position as a world leader.

Meanwhile, in the Indian Ocean, these two titans continue to jockey for access and primacy over some of the most lucrative sea lines of communication (SLOC) and access to critical markets, strategic resources and of course prestige amid the slowly developing Cold War 2.0 transforming the global and regional balance of power and competition.

Naval power has always played a critical role in the way great powers interact – competitions to design the most powerful warships often characterising the great power competitions of the past.

Drawing on perhaps one of modern history’s most powerful ironies, the naval arms race in the decades leading up to the outbreak of the First World War saw an unprecedented competition between the UK and German Empire, with much of the emphasis placed on Dreadnought battleships echoing a similar, albeit smaller, naval arms race gathering steam between the US and China.

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