For four years now, the Indo-Russian deal for five regiments of the S-400 anti-aircraft missile system has constantly made the news. The deal, worth more than USD 5 billion, will make India the third foreign buyer of the system after China and Turkey. In short, S-400 ‘Triumph’ is a Russian long-and medium-range anti-aircraft missile system, designed to destroy all modern and promising means of aerospace attack built upon the legacy of S-300, S-200 and other versions which have been in deployment for a long time in diverse conditions. At the same time, the S-400 system costs around half of its western alternatives.
Since the outlines of the deal first came to light, the deal has worried both China and the United States for different reasons. Whereas China sees the deal as the embodiment of close India-Russia defence ties, Washington sees this deal through its inability to choke Russia through sanctions and the loss of market share for its own defence industry.
The story doesn’t end here. The possibility of invoking the CAATSA (On Countering America’s Enemies Through Sanctions) against India due to defence procurement deals with Russia, is a matter of concern for other prospective buyers like Saudi Arabia, Vietnam, and Indonesia which the US has long eyed as markets for its own defence offerings. However, the Indian case is unlike the Chinese and Turkish cases (both sanctioned for their S-400 deal) for several reasons because the US is envisaging New Delhi as a potential ally to counter China in the Indo-Pacific. Now, with the US withdrawing from Afghanistan and the security situation in South Asia in a flux, it will be imperative for the US to avoid alienating India who now stands as the sole player in subcontinental geopolitics to challenge Chinese hegemony.
What is CAATSA and why it matters?
CAATSA, signed by former US President Donald Trump in 2017, enables Washington to impose sanctions against companies, organizations, and individuals from any nation for conducting ‘substantial’ transactions with Russian defence sector enterprises. CAATSA recognises sanctions in 12 categories, at least 5 of which must be imposed when invoking the act. Some of these sanctions involve blocking loans from the US and international financial institutions and banning any procurement of defence equipment from the US by the sanctioned party, under both the foreign military sales and strategic partnership models.
An often-relayed message is that CAATSA sanctions are not designed to be punitive against partners and allies but are designed to impose costs on Russia in response to activities deemed hostile by the US. This gives the impression that the imposition of CAATSA would simply punish Russia, however, geopolitics in the realm of national security requirements make defence deals a much more convoluted reality.
There has been a widely held acceptance in Russian political circles that India is going ahead with the S-400 procurement despite the numerous American attempts to lure India away, either by CAATSA related pressures or by offering alternative defence systems to India. For Moscow, this shows New Delhi’s commitment to a strong relationship between the two nations. This re-strengthening of ties and commitment has become increasingly important for Moscow as its defence trade with China decreased since 2018 (after allegations by Russia about Chinese activities related to reverse-engineering of Russian proprietary technologies surfaced).
In recent years, there has been a narrative floated in Chinese and Pakistani media, about India moving away from its cold war era relations and of the Indian government being ‘pro-American’, which should make Moscow re-evaluate ties with New Delhi. To a certain extent, a lull observed between India and Russia for a decade between 2005-2015 gives credentials to this narrative, making way for insecurities between the two long-standing strong defence partners. For Russia, beyond securing a guarantee of New Delhi not falling gradually into Washington’s orbit in field of defence trade, the S-400 deal provides a boost to the Russian defence industry which has seen increasing competition in recent years from emerging competitors, especially China.
Moreover, it must be noted that procurement of such systems is not a short-term engagement, as such platforms are supposed to stand for decades on top of which newer versions can be built upon or upgraded. This is where the ‘generational opportunity‘ debate from US’ expert circles come into the picture which denotes the opportunity to penetrate any market through such platforms as a once in a generation opportunity
US’ CAATSA conundrum
According to some experts, the United States stands in a Catch-22 situation. It is not a question of ‘if’ CAATSA would be applied or not (as it gets applied the moment the clause of ‘significant transaction’ is satisfied). The questions are whether the waivers will be given, and if not, then which of the 12 sanctions will be applied.
There have been indications that the US has been trying to assess options to bypass the sanction clauses and provide a waiver to India under the modified waiver clauses introduced into the legislation in 2018. One of the clauses that can be invoked comes under the national security exception, which considers the waiver to be in the US’ national security interests. Another clause considers that the government with primary jurisdiction over the person (the Government of India in this case) is cooperating with the US government on other security matters that are critical to American strategic interests.
It is not just India that is waiting for the fog to clear on waivers and sanctions; other prospective buyers are waiting to see if the US will impose sanctions without considering the newly emerging geopolitical landscape. A hard-line approach towards the application of CAATSA will certainly put pressure on the likes of Vietnam and Saudi Arabia to make a hard choice between US and Russia for defence imports, whereas a milder approach might increase hopes for avoiding sanctions through diplomatic efforts with Washington while negotiating with Moscow for the defence deals.
The deal with Saudi Arabia will be especially important as it might shape how the US and Russia will be perceived in the Persian Gulf in terms of having the capability to be a security provider in the coming future. Although former president Trump adopted a softer approach towards the Khashoggi murder case in 2018, President Joe Biden has frozen the sale of weapons to Saudi Arabia, which included a potential sale of the THAAD missile system. Saudi Arabia might now use the Russian S-400 system as leverage over the US, as losing the Saudi market for defence exports will be a substantial blow for the US defence industry. Keeping in mind the emerging volatile situation in Afghanistan as well, weakening of relations with Gulf nations might cut off the US from influence in the wider West Asian region while Russia makes a return to South Asia after having carved an influential space in West Asian geopolitics by saving President Assad’s regime in Syria.
What lies ahead for India and the S-400 deal?
Unlike Turkey, which is a NATO member with a huge Western defence technology base, the Indian defence base overwhelmingly comprises of Russian and Soviet equipment. India has several joint projects with Russia like the BrahMos hypersonic missile and the assembly of T-90 tanks in India. Even if recent Indian diversification plans are taken into consideration, a significant decrease in India’s reliance on Russian equipment cannot be imagined in upcoming years. Like the cold war era, India and Russia have switched to settlement in national currencies due to the US blocking payment possibilities in dollars. This not only fits with ongoing Russian plans for de-dollarization but also helps India to fit into the wider narrative of a multipolar world and shield itself against any aggressive US policies in future.
Russia is looking towards delivering the first batch of the S-400 system by the end of this year. With unclarity around the sanctions and waivers, India and Russia will want to investigate future ideas for defence cooperation. Concerning a recent visit of Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov to New Delhi, and his statement highlighting confidence in terms of the S-400 deal, the Indian experts picked up his comment on deepening military-technical cooperation within the framework of the ‘Make in India’ program. According to this view, production of Indian air defence systems on Indian territory through a joint initiative can be a possible way of overcoming sanctions for Indo-Russian cooperation. The delivery of the S-400 systems to India in the coming months will surely be a much-celebrated event, how China and the US react, will have to be waited for. Sanctions or not, in any case, the Indo-Russian defence relationship is bound to strengthen after the S-400 procurement.
The question remains whether the increasingly evident importance for US of keeping warm ties with India will lead to waivers from sanctions. India too on its part will be wary now more than ever as the security situation in South Asian region will remain in flux for some time to come as Taliban takes over and engages with China and Pakistan. Any souring of India-US ties is bound to negatively affect both nations’ interests especially in areas both hope to engage for strategic hedging against China.
Defence in the new age of AtmaNirbhar Bharat
Authors: Dr. Manan Dwivedi and Shonit Nayan*
Make in India is an all pervasive, all subsuming and all intrinsic entity to the new trajectory of innovation and development which the nation is adhering to with hits larger idiom of becoming a super power by 2047, with the other name being the nomenclature of indigeneity. India has been strengthened both symbolically and materially through the modicum of its G-20 Presidency and its role as a non-permanent members of the hallowed portals of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) with the entire conceptualization of the concept of human security, which itself takes us back to our Vedic and the Sanatani past.
As a neophyte when one dwelt inside as a kid into the tales of the long gestation time periodswhich go into acquiring new weapons technology and weaponry itself for the nation’s Defense forces, several rudimentary efforts have been in sway by the New Delhi denomination. The manner in which the TATA’s are tying up with the Boeing and the Airbus industries and the pace at which Adani has partnered with Lockheed Martin, makes a concerned citizen get up and take notice. There was a manner in which stories percolated to us that by the time a particularly potent weapon system would be operationalized by the military, it would have turned outmoded and obsolete. Still, the more optimists amongst us can avail of the pride that now the New Delhi dispensation has made it clear to the Global Defense investment and manufacturing interests that the foreign firms have to establish manufacturing hubs and nodes if they want to emerge as the key exports to the Indian Defense establishment. Also, as an attendant fact, the tangible narrative ascertains that the foreign firms would be free to export Defense weaponry to the foreign nations too while manufacturing in the country.
As an instance, Tejas is a single engine, Delta wing and multirole fighter designed by the Aeronautical Development agency with the Hindustan Aeronautics Agency, they are meant to replace the aging fleet of MIG-21’s in order to improve the aggressive and defense outreach of the Indian Air force and Indian Navy. The Tejas are part of the extension of the LCA (Light Combat Aircraft) which seeks to bring India in parity with few forces and their defense establishments. Keeping in view the fact and the attendant practice of the Comptroller and Auditor General, the new Tejas Mark 1 an aircraft carries 40 improvements over the Tejas aircraft built in 2015. Thus, the canny optimists amongst us can hope for better and ebullient news as far as the LCA and other procured and ingeniously manufactured weaponry is concerned. One need not relegate to the backburner the fact that the weaponry aid to the besieged Ukraine has stymied and effectively blocked the invading force of Moscow. With the Ukrainian President Zeklensky clamoring for more state of the art armaments such as the Leopard tanks from Poland and Germany, the significance kill potential of advanced machinery and their tell tale application serves as the “ differential “ between a military and Defense victory or a debacle and a defeat.
Self reliance in defense production has been one of the key attributes of the Indian defense Policy since the 1960’s. In the 2018 make in India defense programme there is an added emphasis on theskill enhancement and the technological expertise of the employees in the Aerospace and the Defense industry. The Defence Production Policy further elaborates and relates that, “Centres of Excellence with industry participation and with Government support, will be set up in niche areas to enable development of frontier technology areas with active involvement of academia and R&D institutions. 19.7 Competitive funded prototyping will be pursued during the design process to address the multiple challenges of technical feasibility, affordability, producibility and supportability.”
The Defense Production Department seeks to spawn a qualified and comprehensive production infrastructure in order to prepare weapons and platforms of the order of tanks. Fighter- multirole jets, helicopters, submarines, earth moving equipment, armored vehicles and heavy vehicles to add teeth and robustness to the Indian Defense establishment with the added carrot to the foreign investors who can further on export their weapons wares to other nations too with Indian stations serving as the manufacturing hub for the larger region. Thus, expediency, returns and self reliance all amalgamate into pitchforking India into the larger firmament of Defense production and Trade. Still, it needs to be emphasized that AtmaNirbharta does not contain itself into the constraints of plane jane self reliance but the entire vision of the conceptualization earmarks the new found perch and confidence of a rising India. It’s also a striving to let us relegate to the backburner, the dark shadows of Colonialism and place an end to the slave mindset of the nation’s hoi polloi and make them and the defense industry to gel with global innovation currents along with the stress on comprehensive citizenship.
*Mr. Shonit Nayan is a Programme Fellow at India Smart City Fellowship Program, Ministry of Housing & Urban Affairs
What is behind the Recalibration of Japanese Security Policy?
On December 16th, 2022, the Japanese cabinet approved three crucial national security documents: 1) National Security Strategy, 2) National Defense Strategy, and 3) Defense Buildup Program. The documents collectively identify challenges and threats to Japan’s security and propose counteractive measures to be undertaken during the next five years, essentially marking a paradigm shift in Japan’s security policy and military posture.
The transformation: according to new policy documents, Japan would increase its defense spending to meet NATO’s standard of 2% of GDP by 2027 meanwhile spending a sum of $314 billion during the period on defense buildup. For the first time in decades, Japan would acquire long-range “counterstrike” capability to deter attacks besides pledging grand investments in developing cyber and space capabilities. To bolster counterstrike capability, Japan would acquire more F-35 aircraft capable of vertical landing and would invest in developing hypersonic weapons, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), and 6th generation fighter jets — last in collaboration with Britain and Italy.
From its humiliating defeat in World War II until the 1970s, Japan maintained a low military profile and relied on the USA’s security umbrella for its defense. During the 1970s, Soviet military buildup in the Pacific and the USA’s growing engagements elsewhere compelled Japan to increase its military spending and by the end of the Cold War, Japan has transformed itself into the “world’s foremost military powers”. The steady buildup of military capabilities continued through the unipolar era given the regional threats — especially those emanating from North Korea and to some extent China — did not subside in all respects.
Changing Japan’s security outlook via revising Article 9 of the Japanese constitution has long been a goal of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, which considers Japan’s constitution as reminiscent of WWII defeat and subsequent occupation by the USA. Nevertheless, the memories of Japan’s militaristic past and its aftermath long haunted the Japanese public, which remained vociferously averse to any such emendation. Therefore, despite having a two-thirds majority at one time, Liberal Democratic Party under the late Shinzo Abe as prime minister fell short of introducing any changes to Japan’s constitution.
The Abe government, however, did reinterpret the constitution and initiated a makeover of Japan’s security posture during its eight years reign (2012-2020). As James Stavridis puts it, “Shinzo Abe’s real legacy is military, not economic”. In 2014, the Abe government authorized Japanese troops to act in aid of an under-attack ally. The same year, Abe relaxed the ban on the export of arms, however with the caveat that the exports would only be allowed if they “contributed to the global peace”.
In 2018, the Abe government created National Security Council, which significantly enhanced Prime Minister’s authority in security affairs. Besides making institutional and organizational changes, Abe’s era saw a steady increase in Japanese defense spending by leveraging the country’s economy, which remains third biggest in the world. Tokyo acquired cutting-edge weaponry including missile defense systems, new-generation radars capable of detecting targets at a long-range, and fifth-generation F-35 fighters, mostly from the USA.
The recent policy documents mark the culmination of Shinzo Abe’s nearly decade-long efforts and essentially purpose to transform Japanese security posture from pacifist to more assertive. Propitiously for the Liberal Democratic Party, in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, public opinion in Japan has reportedly shifted in favor of changes in security policy.
On the top of the internal predisposition to get away with the memories of WWII humiliation, the external security environment of Japan is also undergoing unprecedented changes, which made the aforementioned modifications inevitable.
China — categorized as the “greatest strategic challenge” in the Japanese National Security Strategy — now wields the world’s largest navy by the number of vessels and is speedily expanding to its military footprint in the Western Pacific. Likewise, nuclear-armed North Korea — classified as a threat in the NSS — has grown in belligerence as well as the capabilities. The communist aloof country conducted the highest number of ballistic missile tests during 2022 — one of which flew over Japan last October. Moreover, Russia has recently added Japan to the list of unfriendly countries after Tokyo joined Western sanctions against Russia. Moscow is not only increasing its military presence in the Pacific but is carrying out joint naval drills and air patrols with Beijing evoking anxieties in Tokyo. It goes without saying that the security environment for Japan has become more challenging and complicated than 1970s.
Although the USA has been trying to reorient itself towards the primary theater of Great Power rivalry i.e. Western Pacific, the transformed European security environment owing to war in Ukraine would likely inhibit the Washington’s unqualified reorientation towards the Pacific. Moreover, despite Japan under Abe smartly weathered the Trump assault against the US allies, the eccentric real estate tycoon did galvanize Japanese leadership to be prepared for another isolationist inhabiting the Oval Office. Hence the intent to share more burden in the alliance besides taking an assertive role in the regional security matters.
In essence, Japan now seeks to assume primary responsibility for its security meanwhile enjoying the shelter of the USA’s security umbrella and extended deterrence. At the same time, Japan is exploring options beyond the alliance with USA by expanding military partnerships and collaboration with other likeminded countries. The project to develop 6th generation fighter jet in collaboration with Britain and Italy, and the recent military drills with India underscore Japan’s inclination to expand its military partnerships beyond Washington.
The US tanks deal to Ukraine and the Sino-Russian military alliance
After the warnings of the Deputy Chairman of the Russian Security Council, “Medvedev”, of the possibility of establishing a Russian-Chinese military alliance against Washington, the most important questions and analyzes that arise in this regard revolve in their entirety around:
Will Russia implement its threats to establish that alliance?
What are the countries likely to ally with Russia to confront America?
And in the event that Russia implements its threats against the United States of America by establishing that joint military alliance with China, does this mean a weakening of American hegemony in world politics?
Then, what is the relationship of the tank deal that the United States and Germany intend to send to Ukraine with the order of that joint military alliance between China and Russia, and does China really accept a solid and joint military alliance in confronting Washington militarily?
In order to answer these questions, we will find that there is already an existing and joint strengthening of military cooperation between the Chinese and Russian sides, through Russian President “Putin” stressing to his Chinese counterpart “Xi Jinping” the importance of geo-strategic cooperation and technical-military cooperation between the two countries in the wake of the “interaction joint maneuvers” in 2022 between the two countries, which took place in the East China Sea in December 2022, with the assertion of the commander of the Russian forces participating in the joint military exercises with China, that it comes as a response to the violent increase in the number of US forces present in the Indo-Pacific region in the American concept or the Asia-Pacific region in the Chinese and Russian concept. This means that Russia is ready to cooperate closely with Beijing, in response to the American efforts to surround China, through the establishment of American military and technological alliances to confront China, such as the American quadruple alliance with India, Japan and Australia, or through the US nuclear defense Okus alliance with Australia and Britain, or from Through Washington’s military support for Taiwan in the face of Beijing and the increase in US arms and military equipment sales to the Taiwanese side, which arouses China’s ire.
In recent years, China has also taken the initiative to enhance cooperation between the Chinese People’s Liberation Army and the Russian Armed Forces by conducting joint exercises and coordinated patrols in the area around Japan. As for the Chinese army, its cooperation with the Russian army and the Russian armed forces would contribute significantly to the implementation of the military, security and defense reforms that Chinese President “Xi Jinping” seeks to achieve, which aims to transform the Chinese People’s Liberation Army into one of the largest fighting forces in the world to be comparable in strength to the US Army.
We find that there is already existing and joint military cooperation between the Chinese and Russian parties in the field of joint military exercises, which has witnessed a clear increase in the recent period, and this cooperation in the security and defense field between China and Russia has acquired clear geopolitical connotations. In May 2022, China and Russia conducted joint sorties and air maneuvers over the Sea of Japan and the East China Sea, which coincided with the summit of the leaders of the Quadruple Strategic Dialogue, known as “Quad” in Japan, which is a forum for political cooperation through which Washington seeks to turn it into a military alliance against China. Therefore, the joint maneuvers of Moscow and Beijing came to confirm that the two countries are cooperating militarily in the face of Washington’s attempt to establish military alliances against them, on top of which is the US Aukus nuclear defense alliance with Australia and Britain in the face of China.
Also, all the recent summits that took place between Beijing and Moscow focused, in their entirety, on Russian military cooperation with Beijing, as well as the two parties meeting to strengthen their strategic partnerships in the face of Western threats, and on their intention and desire to establish a multipolar international system, with what that means in the end. The US-dominated world order, which Washington seeks to respond to by pushing the NATO military alliance to adopt policies to besiege the Chinese and Russian countries.
China and Russia have conducted several joint military exercises in the Chinese Shandong Peninsula, and they were mainly focused on anti-terrorism exercises, and it was agreed after that to conduct peace mission exercises annually under the auspices of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, which consists of (China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan).
Then this was followed by several joint naval exercises that took place on a permanent basis, and it was called joint seas exercises and maneuvers (or a joint Russian-Chinese naval interaction, as the Russians called it), and it was mainly concentrated in the Yellow Sea region off the Chinese Shandong Peninsula, with the participation of many Warships from both countries, in exercises simulating joint air defense, anti-submarine warfare, and search and rescue missions. Since then, joint seas exercises have been held annually between the Chinese and Russian sides (except for 2020), and their content is constantly changing. Since 2013, the geographical scope of the Russian-Chinese exercises has expanded, to include areas outside the immediate periphery of China, including Europe, and in chronological order those locations were:
(Sea of Japan in 2013, East China Sea exercises in 2014, Mediterranean and Sea of Japan in 2015, South China Sea in 2016, Baltic Sea and Sea of Japan in 2017, South China Sea in 2018, Yellow Sea in 2019, Sea of Japan in 2021)
China also participated in the “Russian Vostok joint military exercises” in 2018, which were held in the Eastern Military District of Russia and about 3,200 Chinese soldiers from the Chinese People’s Liberation Army participated. The Chinese and Russian militaries also carry out coordinated and periodic military missions in the geographical and territorial area surrounding the seas and in the airspace around Japan. Most of the joint military exercises and missions between China and Russia take place in the eastern part of the Sea of Japan, through the northern Tsugaru Strait (between Honshu and Hokkaido regions), along the Pacific coast of Japan, and then west through the Osumi Strait in southern Kagoshima Prefecture.
The main objective of conducting such military maneuvers between China and Russia, as declared by both parties, remains to unite forces against the United States of America and its allies, especially after its strained relations with both countries. In addition to Russia’s dispute with the United States of America and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization since the Russian annexation of Crimea in 2014. Recently, US tensions with Russia have exacerbated, due to the latter’s invasion of Ukraine.
Bearing in mind that Chinese President Xi Jinping did not respond directly to Russia’s desire for joint military cooperation, but merely referred to Beijing’s willingness to increase strategic cooperation with Russia. At the same time, there are US assurances that Washington has not monitored any indications of Chinese support for Russia in its war against Ukraine, unlike the case with North Korea and Iran, which Washington has accused of providing Moscow with ammunition and drones.
Here the message of the Russian President “Putin” to his Chinese counterpart “Xi Jinping” by expressing Russia’s desire for a military rapprochement between the two countries to confront what he called unprecedented Western pressure, with President Putin affirming the right of the two countries to preserve their positions, principles, and aspirations to build a just international order, in a Russian reference to the multipolar system, which will mark the end of American unipolarity, the Russian side assured its Chinese counterpart that military cooperation between the Chinese and Russian sides will support international peace and security.
Here, Washington expresses its concern about such cooperation, which may cover any shortage of military supplies that Russia needs to continue its war against Ukraine. It was remarkable that Western officials ignored this time threatening China if it sought military cooperation with Russia.
There is an official Chinese assertion through the official Chinese government media affiliated with the ruling Communist Party, that Beijing will continue to adhere to its objective and fair position on the war in Ukraine, which is based on the fact that the West caused this conflict by insisting on spreading NATO bases to countries located in the immediate vicinity from the Russian borders, which is in line with and confirms the Russian point of view, and contradicts its Western counterpart, which views the Russian-Ukrainian war as an assault by Moscow on a sovereign country.
We will find that after the summit talks between President Xi Jinping and Putin (shortly before Russia started its invasion of Ukraine), both the Chinese and Russian sides oppose further NATO expansion, and stand against the formation of closed blocs and opposing camps in the Asia-Pacific region. In this way, China signaled its support for Russia in its power struggle with NATO against Washington and the West.
On the other side, the economic and military cooperation between China and Russia has also been increased, since the start of the Russian military operation against Ukraine in February 2022, despite the United States’ threat to Beijing at the beginning of the war, to work to help the Russian economy find alternatives that help it avoid the repercussions of Western sanctions, However, it became clear that Beijing did not heed these American threats.
Here, China and Russia succeeded in arousing Washington’s military wrath, through Moscow conducting several multilateral maneuvers with the participation of China and India at the end of 2022, in order to confirm that Washington’s attempts to militarily weaken the relationship between Moscow, New Delhi, and Beijing will not succeed.
Hence, we can say that the relations between Russia and China have witnessed a remarkable growth in the military aspects in recent times, exceeding the limit of statements to the level of action and practical moves in the Indo-Pacific region or the Pacific and Indian oceans, as a joint Russian-Chinese response to confront the US alliances with its regional allies. In that region, accusing the American side of seeking and targeting the strangulation of the two countries in the first place. Especially after the series of security, political, economic and military alliances that the United States of America established against China and Russia in their regional region, led by the Aukus-Quad alliances against the interests of China and Russia mainly, coinciding with the escalation of the American provocations in the Taiwan Strait and the South China Sea, with the policy of continuous American mobilization of its allies in Europe, and the imposition of several packages of sanctions against Moscow to paralyze the Russian economy after the Ukraine war.
Therefore, the Chinese-Russian response, on the other hand, was to strengthen their network of military and diplomatic relations in light of their tense relations with the US side and its allies, through political and economic partnerships and joint and extensive military exercises, and Moscow and Beijing’s keenness to conduct regular naval maneuvers between the two sides as threatening messages directed mainly at Washington.
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