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HOME  > Past issues  > 2020 May 13 - 19  > US and China playing power game despite coronavirus crisis
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2020 May 13 - 19 [POLITICS]

US and China playing power game despite coronavirus crisis

May 17, 2020
Despite facing an increased risk of coronavirus contagion, a carrier-borne U.S. Navy aircraft unit at the Iwakuni base (Yamaguchi Pref.) on April 14 began conducting field carrier landing practice (FCLP) exercises on Iwo-jima Islands in the western Pacific. The U.S. military, with China in mind, conducts these exercises to fill a "power vacuum" in the South China Sea.

The FCLP exercises started following the departure of the Yokosuka-based nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan for operations in the Indo-Pacific.

The USS Ronald Reagan in late March saw corona infections among its crewmembers. Commander of U.S. Navy Region Japan Brian Fort revealed that "nearly 30 personnel" at the Yokosuka base were infected with COVID-19. As a means to prevent further infections, the Navy dispersed its crewmembers to the Yokota base (Tokyo) and Atsugi base (Kanagawa Pref.) for quarantine. However, infections occurred there as well, spreading the risk even to Japanese civilian employees working at these bases and to the residents living near the bases.

Up to about 5,000 crewmembers are normally onboard a carrier. Many of them sleep in three-tier bunk beds, which epitomizes an extreme "three Cs" situation (closed spaces with poor ventilation, crowded places, close-contact settings) and poses a great risk of a massive COVID-19 outbreak. Despite this possibility, the USS Ronald Reagan was sent on operations in the Indo-Pacific region. Behind this risky act lies a struggle for hegemony with China in the South China Sea and the East China Sea.

Meanwhile, the Chinese Navy had six vessels, including the aircraft carrier Liaoning, sail back and forth between Okinawa's mainland and Miyakojima Island in April. Also, China has vessels intrude into Japanese territorial waters near the Senkaku Islands. In spite of the coronavirus crisis, China continues to demonstrate its presence in the region.

When the entire world should unite to combat COVID-19 infections, both the United States and China are playing a military confrontation power game.

Past related articles:
> Shii protests China's chasing away Japanese fishing boat [May 10, 2020]
> US military in Japan should disclose information about coronavirus infection cases in its bases [April 15, 2020]
> Residents of US base-hosting cities demand that Japanese gov't prevent US military corona infections from entering local communities [April
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