February 25, 2021
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Power equation
China’s military modernization and its regional impact Beijing may tout its continued military buildup as part of its “peaceful rise” or “peaceful development,” but reactions outside of China have been anything but sanguine. There is genuine concern throughout the Asia and the Pacific Rim that this expansion of military power is a prelude to a more aggressively assertive China-and one that is prepared to use its growing armed might to press its national interests and back up its various geopolitical claims. This unease is reinforced by the increasingly volatile rhetoric coming out of Beijing-for example, when it comes to claims of “indisputable sovereignty” over much of the South China Sea-as well as its ostensibly provocative activities in adjacent seas and airspaces, such as harassing the USNS Impeccable in March 2009, sending warplanes over the median line with Taiwan, or establishing the Sansha administrative prefecture within the Paracel and Spratly islands. Consequently, several nations, that are the most directly affected by a more militarily capable and assertive China have reacted in kind: by undertaking their own military responses to this buildup. In particular, Japan, India, and several nations in Southeast Asia are beginning to at least partially justify their current military modernization programs as a hedge against Chinese aggression; these arming actions, in turn, have led some to fear that the Asia
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