PA­CIFIC CHAL­LENGES

The Washington Times Weekly - - Geopolitics -

The Peo­ple’s Lib­er­a­tion Army’s (PLA) navy has be­gun a mas­sive ex­er­cise in the western Pa­cific that is widely seen as a re­sponse to the re­cently com­pleted U.S.-Ja­pan-South Korean joint naval drills led by the air­craft car­rier USS Ge­orge Wash­ing­ton near the Korean Penin­sula.

Code-named “Mo­bile Op­er­a­tion No. 5,” the Chi­nese flotilla set sail Oct. 18 to an area that is ex­pected to stretch be­yond the Ryukyu !slands be­tween Ja­pan and Tai­wan. The ma­neu­vers will con­tinue through early Novem­ber.

The ma­neu­vers’ an­nounced ob­jec­tive is a “deep ocean ex­er­cise of re­al­is­tic live-fire con­fronta­tions,” which state-con­trolled me­dia in­ter­preted to mean a sce­nario of an en­gage­ment with the U.S. Navy.

“The PLA is now dis­patch­ing up to one hun­dred war­ships to con­duct large-scale ex­er­cises … to con­front the U.S. car­rier-based fleet face to face and get ready for

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