Saturday, May 20, 2006

Navy to beef up presence in Asian waters

The Pacific fleet of the U.S. Navy aims to step up the number of submarines and aircraft carriers in Asian waters to patrol the region and ensure security, its commander said on Friday.

"It is clear to us the prosperity of (the) economy in the region depends on security," official news agency Bernama quoted Admiral Gary Roughead, commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, as telling local reporters during a visit to Malaysia.

The narrow, strategic waterway of the Malacca Strait is an 805-km (500-mile) channel linking Asia with the Middle East and Europe and carries some 50,000 vessels a year.

It also carries some 40 percent of the world's trade, including 80 percent of Japan's and South Korea's oil and gas and 80 percent of China's oil, according to a U.S.-Indonesia Society 2005 study on the impact of a terrorism attack in the strait.

From an economic and strategic perspective the Strait of Malacca is one of the most important shipping lanes in the world, an equivalent of the Suez Canal, or the Panama Canal. The Strait forms the main ship passageway between the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean, linking three of the world's most populous nations: India, Indonesia and China.

US treasury secretary, John Snow, renewed his attack on the Chinese authorities for not letting the yuan float freely against the dollar.

"It is a matter of extreme urgency that China act immediately to increase the flexibility of its exchange rate regime before real harm is done to its own economy, to its Asian neighbours and to the global system," Mr Snow said in Washington.


In an attempt to force China and its robust economy to help ease economic woes at home, the US seems to be making veiled threats as the above linked items imply. Foreign policy at its best!


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