The fishing vessels arrived one and two at a time, dropping anchor off the disputed Whitsun Reef near the Philippines. As the Chinese-flagged fleet grew larger, the vessels tethered themselves together, hunkering down for a gray zone standoff that has captured policymaker interest throughout the Pacific region.
And with that, Beijing burst Washington’s deterrence bubble.
In congressional testimony last month, officials advocated for new, multibillion-dollar investments in long-range strike capabilities and a sophisticated missile system in Guam. These new platforms, it was argued, are essential to reassuring our regional allies and deterring China.
And yet, the Whitsun spectacle lays bare that Washington’s continued embrace of a costly, conventional deterrence strategy is alone unlikely to prevent Beijing from achieving many of its security objectives.
[ Editor’s Note: This is an extremely challenging situation, made worse by the fact that the Biden Administration is viewed as weak by our adversaries. Perhaps even more dangerous, never before has the leader of the free world been so cognitively compromised, as well as the leverage the CCP has over Joe Biden and others in the administration doe to questionable business ties. See this, this, and this.