For years, U.S. defense planners have fretted over the prospect of an expanded Chinese military presence in the Western Pacific Ocean. Beijing’s so-called “string-of-pearls” strategy supposedly envisioned an array of bases and long-range naval forces capable of exerting Chinese influence into the mid-Pacific and through the Strait of Malacca (between Indonesia and Malaysia) into the Indian Ocean.
But it’s the United States, not China, that’s making the most progress expanding its military infrastructure in the region.
In just the last year, the Pentagon has arranged for new or expanded access to facilities in Vietnam, Singapore and northern Australia. Combined with existing bases in Japan and Guam and a treaty granting U.S. troops “invitational” access to The Philippines, the Pentagon has managed to essentially cordon off the Western Pacific.
Meanwhile, China has built no bases on foreign soil. There were rumors that Beijing would establish a military port in Pakistan, but they proved to be false.