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Taiwan scholar reveals extent of US military operations in South China Sea

Military analyst recommends US continue monitoring regional Chinese military activities

USS McCampbell (US Navy photo)

USS McCampbell (US Navy photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The Institute for National Defense and Security Research (INDSR) has released its latest “real-time analysis of national defense security,” which features a piece that examines the strategic significance of the waters southwest of Taiwan and the Bashi Strait.

In the report, titled "U.S. military operations in the South China Sea," INDSR military expert Huang Tsung-ting (黃宗鼎) said that the southwestern corner of Taiwan’s air defense identification zone (ADIZ) is one of the American military’s major areas of operation in the South China Sea. He added that the U.S. has carried out irregular naval voyages, routine military exercises, and reconnaissance missions in the "two lines, one belt" area of the South China Sea.

Huang defined the first “line” as stretching from the Taixinan Basin to the Pearl River Mouth Basin (PRMB) to the Paracel Islands and all the way down to the Qiongdongnan Basin. He described the second line as stretching from Taiwan Shoal to Shantou in China’s Guangdong Province and ending at the PRMB.

Meanwhile, Huang said the “belt” spans the Verde Island Passage, the area surrounding Scarborough Shoal, and the waters north of the Spratly Islands.

The expert noted that the U.S. military has dispatched anti-submarine warfare, early warning, and surveillance aircraft along the first line since U.S.-China tensions increased in June of last year. Additionally, reconnaissance aircraft, anti-submarine aircraft, and early warning aircraft have been conducting missions in the northern part of the South China Sea to detect Chinese submarines, pave a safe path for U.S. military ships, and monitor Chinese military planes entering the southwestern corner of Taiwan’s ADIZ, he said.

Huang said that American aircraft have flown as close as 87 km from Shantou to monitor nearby Chinese military movements, such as activity at the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) naval base on Stonecutters Island in Hong Kong and at the Xiachuan Island navy base, where China's 52nd submarine detachment is stationed.

Huang said that in order to stop the expansion of the PLA in the South China Sea, the U.S. military must strengthen regional deterrence by continuing its "two lines, one belt" activities in the region.