Right across the Indo-Pacific region, Beijing is trying to gain territorial space, unilaterally through force, according to Admiral John Aquilino.

The commander of the U.S. military in the Indo-Pacific, Admiral John Aquilino, has highlighted Beijing’s illegal and aggressive behaviour across the region, warning that the disputed Second Thomas Shoal was the “most dangerous flashpoint” in Australia’s area of command.

In a wide-ranging address to the Lowy Institute, a Sydney-based think tank, Admiral Aquilino covered many of the issues the United States notes to be of concern in the region.

He referred to the most recent incident, where Chinese Coast Guard vessels interfered with the resupply of Philippine troops stationed on the BRP Sierra Madre, a ship deliberately grounded on the disputed Second Thomas Shoal (or Ren’ai Jiao), a submerged reef in the Spratly Islands.

“The last two resupplies, there were six coast guardsmen on the Philippine resupply vessels that were injured and killed,” the Admiral said.

“These actions are dangerous, illegal and they are destabilising. The Second Thomas Shoal is the most dangerous flashpoint in your area of command.”

He praised Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Junior, who has said he will “not give an inch” of his country’s territory to Beijing, despite skirmishes between vessels from both nations.

“I commend the actions he’s taken as well as those of my counterparts … in the Philippines, exposing the bad behaviour. That is a unilateral action by a strong nation to impress their will and goals on another nation in the region. If you were to think about that, it sounds a lot like Russia and Ukraine,” he said.

“The illegal claim by Beijing to everything inside of the self-proclaimed nine or 10 dash line as Chinese sovereign territorial waters has no basis in international law. And it has been decreed by the 2016 tribunal that … the Chinese have no legal claim.

“I’m very, very concerned about the direction it’s going.”

Chinese Coast Guard water attack on Philippines Ship

He pointed out, however, that this wasn’t the only territorial dispute in the region, citing Japan’s problem with aggressive behaviour by Beijing in the vicinity of the Senkaku Islands, as well as disputes with Malaysia, Indonesia, and India.

“The Chinese have renamed 30 areas across the Indian border. This is an approach that we’ve seen before. They’re going to rename and claim it. And then at some point in the future will dictate it as history – revisionist history – but history nonetheless, and erase the history of where the line of actual control really is. So, I think India has similar concerns as it applies to other nations in the region,” he said.

“This is not isolated. This is about the PRC (People’s Republic of China) trying to gain territorial space, unilaterally through force.”

Admiral Aquilino said that the build-up in the military capacity of Japan – strongly rumoured to soon come on board AUKUS as a partner, though not a full member – “is only one example of what you’ve seen in the region as it applies to the strengthening of military capability … this is about the threat.”

He listed the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) as an obvious threat in the region, as identified in the U.S. national defence strategy, as well as Russia, based on its illegitimate invasion of Ukraine.

The commander of the U.S. military in the Indo-Pacific region, Admiral Aquilino, is responsible for all U.S. military activities in the region, covering 36 countries,14 time zones and half of the world’s population. It’s an area known as USINDOPACOM (see map below).

His remit includes some of the world’s flashpoints from the Taiwan Strait to the South China Sea to the Korean Demilitarized Zone (KDZ).

He described his mission as “number one, to prevent conflict in this region. And number two is if I fail at mission one, to be prepared to fight and win.”

A cornerstone of the second part of that mission, he said, was for U.S. forces to “integrate and synchronise” with allies and partners.

“Despite 375,000 people [under his command], the strength of what happens in this region is all of our alliances, our friendships and our partnerships with the entire region, whether that be militarily or economically,” Admiral Aquilino said.

“Those capabilities dwarf any competitor and each and every day, and any potential adversary needs to see that this globalised world and the linkage of like-minded nations is a problem that they will have.”

He pointed to several exercises that started off as bilateral and have since expanded to include many more Pacific nations.

“Talisman Sabre previously was a bilateral U.S.-Australian high-end exercise that we did every other year. Now there’s up to 14 nations participating.”

North Korea’s continuing long-range missile activity and development of its nuclear capability in violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions is also of concern, Admiral. Aquilino said.

“And if that’s not enough, violent extremism is still around and it’s in this theatre, the Philippines and in the southern Philippines, they have a real problem. So, with that lineup, four of the five threats identified in the United States National Security Strategy are in this theatre.”

Recent increased cooperation among countries that pose a threat to the region is a new and potentially dangerous development, he warned.

“When you talk about what’s happened over the last year with regard to the synchronisation of some of those nations; the ‘No Limits’ relationship between the PRC and Russia is critical.

“That’s a problem we haven’t had before … they’re operating more together both in the maritime and the airspace. They are certainly supporting each other … so those are concerning and I’d argue going in the wrong direction,” he said.

Russian and North Korean (DPRK) cooperation, through weapon sharing and economic support was also an issue, the admiral said.

“That’s a problem and not because they’re supporting the economy but because the financial support to the DPRK is going to increase missile development and weapons development – not to feeding the people in the DPRK.”

In response to Beijing’s overtures to small Pacific nations, Admiral Aquilino said the United States’ strategy was to “work together to ensure we can help and support those islands to maintain their sovereignty, maintain their livelihood, and to maintain their linkage and ability to have a voice in a rules-based order as well.

“That gets to the point that an increased military presence is a direct threat to Australia as it applies to homeland defence,” he said.

With all this as background, what is the Albanese government doing about it?

The answer is, bugger all !

Our pathetic Prime Minister takes every opportunity to suck up to Xi Jinping and others within the CCP cadre. We all remember his patting the shoulder and grovelling handshake with XI Jinping that’s been viewed repeatedly on News programs.

He has also attempted to shut down all negative commentary on Communist China even to the extent of demoting outstanding defence and national security advisers from ASIO and ASIS and replacing them on the National Security Council with a permanent climate change bureaucrat.

ASPI’s funding is also under threat from the Albanese government despite its globally recognised expertise and capabilities. It has raised the threat China poses to Australia on numerous occasions and this has annoyed Albanese and his socialist comrades.

Our spending on defence/military spending has remained at 2% of GDP – about the same as we spend on the NDIS. In order to catch up on decades of neglect, we should be spending at least 3% of GDP.

The extra money could be taken out of the NDIS and Climate Change budgets – both of which are beset with scams and wasteful expenditure.

Our Deputy PM and Minister for Defence, Richard Marles, is cringeworthy when he speaks on defence issues. His rhetoric is limited to what we might achieve in 10-20 years’ time. He fails to understand that we have immediate and short-term needs.

We don’t even have relatively cheap drones and missiles in our defence arsenal – but we might have nuclear subs by 2040. You can’t make this stuff up!

The new head of our Defence Forces, David Johnston, looks and sounds as uninspiring as his predecessor. His first comment in his new role was to refer policy initiatives back to the government, so don’t expect any great initiatives from this bloke!

Former Defence official Michael Shoebridge criticised Johnston’s appointment, describing him as “the comfortable continuity candidate”.

“This appointment represents steady-as-she-goes and continuity at a time when we require urgent change,” he said.

“This shows a disturbing complacency on behalf of the government.”

So, there we have it. While our truth-challenged and weak-kneed Prime Minister, together with his coterie of incompetent Ministers and government bureaucrats continue to waste huge sums of money on a non-existent ‘climate crisis’, our country remains practically defenceless.

Xi Jinping, Vladimir Putin, Kim Jong Un, and Ali Khamenei just smile and shake their heads at our unbelievable stupidity.

Thanks to Rex Widerstrom at The Epoch Times for his contribution to this article.

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