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10 Dec, 2021 06:44

US-Japan military drills held amid rising tensions over China

US-Japan military drills held amid rising tensions over China

The United States and Japan are conducting joint military drills with thousands of troops this month as tensions between the two countries and China rise.

The drill – referred to by the South China Morning Post (SCMP) as the largest in recent years – is known as Resolute Dragon 2021 and commenced last Saturday. It will continue until December 17 and spans much of Japan, with nearly 1,400 members of the Japanese Self-Defense Forces, 2,650 US Marines, and a collection of US aircraft, including MV-22B Ospreys and F/A-18E Hornet fighter planes involved.

One anonymous analyst at Japan’s National Institute of Defence Studies told the SCMP that the drills were a “direct result of the increased threat posed by China to the stability of the region.”

The analyst also claimed that “the Chinese are keeping a close watch” on the latest wargames.

3rd Marine Division Commanding General Jay Bargeron said in a statement that Resolute Dragon 21 was “an example of the strength of the US-Japan alliance, which has served as the foundation of peace and security in the Indo-Pacific for more than 60 years.”

“Through this exercise, the JGSDF and US Marine Corps will strengthen, integrate, and synchronize our complementary capabilities to ensure we remain ready and capable of defending all of Japan, safeguarding our shared values, and preserving freedom at sea,” he said.

The US – along with the UK, Australia, and Canada – has decided to hold a diplomatic boycott of the upcoming Winter Olympics in Beijing as tensions between China and the West rise. China mocked the boycott, claiming that officials from the country had not even been invited. Japan has received calls from activists to also boycott the games; however, the country has not yet taken this step.

Regarding tensions in the region, China has repeatedly warned the US to back down after comments threatening to defend Taiwan, which considers itself independent.

After US General Mark Milley said the military would be able to defend Taiwan, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin warned that “no one can underestimate China’s firm determination and will to defend national sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

“We will never allow anyone or any force to split Taiwan from the embrace of the motherland in any way,” Wang said.

In October, the spokesman also warned that “no external interference” would be allowed in Taiwan as the island is “an inalienable part of China’s territory, and the Taiwan issue is purely China’s internal affair.”