It’s no doubt that United States President Donald Trump has been vehemently critical of China’s economic and militaristic policies. But is the commander-in-chief ready to rain American fire power in the East?
One man in his inner circle seems to think so. Or at least he did. Steve Bannon, chief White House strategist and former head of right-leaning news site Breitbart, is known for openly speaking against Chinese aggression.
“We’re going to war in the South China Sea in five to 10 years,” he said in March 2016. “There’s no doubt about that. They’re taking their sandbars and making basically stationary aircraft carriers and putting missiles on those. They come here to the United States in front of our face – and you understand how important face is – and say it’s an ancient territorial sea.”
In fact, China has been establishing artificial islands on reefs and rocks along the South China Sea. Beijing has even equipped them with military-capable airstrips and anti-aircraft missile launchers. China maintains its defensive posture is perfectly legal and lays claim to most of the South China Sea – a move that has enraged her neighbors, some of which are U.S. allies, who claim overlapping parts of the region.
Under the former Obama Administration, the U.S. had several close encounters with Chinese military in the region after then commander-in-chief sent warships to defend “freedom of navigation.”
But is the new boss ready to pick up where his predecessor left off and break new ground?
So far, Trump has shown he is a man of his word. Days into his presidency, he moved forward with laying the groundwork for what may become a wall along the U.S.-Mexican border and initiated a travel ban on seven mostly-Muslim countries home to terrorist extremists warning for control.
The new U.S Secretary of State has already said he will not allow China access to its militarized artificial islands.
“You have an expansionist Islam and you have an expansionist China. Right? They are motivated. They’re arrogant. They’re on the march. And they think the Judeo-Christian west is on the retreat,” Bannon said during a February 2016 radio show.
But, its important to note that Bannon is no longer a sensationalist reporter. He’s now on the principal committee of the National Security Council. He’ll obviously have to undergo stricter rules and potential penalties than the ones he virtually gave himself as head of Breitbart.