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Breaking Defense

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Bonnie Glaser

Mattis Heads To Japan, Korea: Why Asian Alliances Will Survive TPP’s Death

Posted by Sydney J. Freedberg Jr. on


WASHINGTON: President Donald Trump killed the Trans-Pacific Partnership just two days ago, but this morning, multiple experts and one four-star general agreed that America’s Pacific alliances — except perhaps the Philippines — would survive and even thrive. A few hours later, aptly enough, the Pentagon announced that Defense Secretary James Mattis, the new administration’s most outspoken… Keep reading →

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China Seizes US Underwater Drone, Fortifies Disputed Islets

Posted by Sydney J. Freedberg Jr. on


UPDATE: China agrees to return drone WASHINGTON: The same day the US Navy made its case for a much larger fleet of 355 ships, the Chinese navy seized an American underwater drone 50 nautical miles off the Philippines. Just two days earlier, the independent Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative reported China had fortified the artificial islands it… Keep reading →

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Chinese Ambassador Blasts South China Sea Tribunal

Posted by Sydney J. Freedberg Jr. on


WASHINGTON: After a UN tribunal ruled stingingly against Chinese territorial claims in the South China Sea, Beijing reacted with its characteristically prickly mix of grandiosity and insecurity. The official Chinese perspective inverts Washington’s worldview so thoroughly it can be hard for Americans to understand: International rules are rigged, US military presence is destabilizing, China rightfully… Keep reading →

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Don’t Push China Too Hard After SCS Ruling

Posted by Sydney J. Freedberg Jr. on


UPDATED with Chinese Ambassador, Sen. Sullivan, & CSIS conference WASHINGTON: “To a surrounded enemy, you must leave a way of escape,” Sun Tzu wrote 2,500 years ago. It’s a stratagem – often called the “golden bridge” – that the US and its allies would do well to remember tomorrow morning, when a UN tribunal will almost… Keep reading →

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UN Ruling Won’t End South China Sea Dispute: Navy Studies Next Clash

Posted by Sydney J. Freedberg Jr. on


A UN tribunal ruling could trigger the next round of brinksmanship in the South China Sea as early as next week. But don’t expect the ruling to end the dispute, especially since the Chinese have already vowed to ignore an adverse ruling. “It’s…not likely to be resolved this year or by one international ruling, no matter how brilliant… Keep reading →

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US On China: Cooperate Where We Can, Confront Where We Must

Posted by Sydney J. Freedberg Jr. on


SINGAPORE: In his speech to the Shangri-La Dialogue here, Defense Secretary Ashton Carter laid out a cautious and carefully crafted vision for security in Asia. Carter called for an “inclusive (and) principled security network,” one that would try to include China and encourage it to abide by international law, rather than seeking to confront and… Keep reading →

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US Must Do More In South China Sea, Urges Sen. McCain

Posted by Sydney J. Freedberg Jr. on


SINGAPORE: In a clear message to the Obama Administration, our Pacific partners and to China, Sen. John McCain says the US military is not doing enough to challenge Chinese claims in the strategic South China Sea. Nor is the US doing enough to ratify the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade pact, a vital economic objective in the… Keep reading →

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Vietnam Pivots To US With Wary Eye On China: Arms Ban Ends

Posted by Sydney J. Freedberg Jr. on


ABOARD SECDEF CARTER’S PLANE: In many ways, today marks the final exorcism of the Vietnam War as America turns to the much greater challenge of a rising, militarizing China — and as Hanoi seeks just enough US help to balance Beijing without provoking it. President Obama is in Hanoi and Defense Secretary Ash Carter in New Haven. Yesterday,… Keep reading →

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Chinese Scarborough Shoal Base Would Threaten Manila

Posted by Sydney J. Freedberg Jr. on


UPDATED with Sen. McCain & Dean Cheng comments WASHINGTON: If China builds an artificial island on the disputed Scarborough Shoal, Sen. Dan Sullivan warned today, it will complete a “strategic triangle” of bases that can dominate the South China Sea. At this morning’s Senate Armed Services Committee hearing, Sullivan displayed a map (above) of the region… Keep reading →

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Carter Evasive On South China Sea While China Targets Philippines

Posted by Sydney J. Freedberg Jr. on


In its eagerness to avoid offending the Chinese, is the administration giving them a green light in the disputed South China Sea? This afternoon, on the eve of his departure for the Philippines and India, Defense Secretary Ash Carter carefully tiptoed around ongoing Chinese national security provocations. Several experts I spoke to were not reassured. Carter… Keep reading →

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