China is sure to use the aftermath of the virus to try to strengthen its hold on the Pacific region, according to lawmakers. But the United States will also have an opportunity to shore up its traditional allies.
The pandemic threatens to upend the status quo around the world, particularly in Asia, where the infections began, said Senator Josh Hawley, Republican of Missouri, who has advocated increased military funding for the Pacific region.
“China understands that the global pandemic is an inflection point,” Mr. Hawley said. “They are trying to turn this to their advantage. Make no mistake, they are still pursuing their global strategic ambitions. The need for us to laser focus on China’s economic and military ambitions is going to be more urgent once we beat this pandemic, not less.”
Some members of Congress and military strategists have long argued that the Pentagon needed to fund a deterrence initiative in Asia, akin to measures in Europe after Russia annexed Crimea in 2014 and began its war with Ukraine. The European funding paid for new military exercises, the deployment of forces to the Baltic States and Poland, and upgrades to logistic facilities, like ports.
Among the projects proposed in the report is a series of new intelligence-sharing centers. While the United States has close intelligence ties with New Zealand and Australia, its partnerships with allies in Southeast Asia are more anemic. The new money would create a counterterrorism center, an Oceania fusion center and other intelligence facilities.
Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/05/us/politics/us-china-military-funding-virus.html