Aquilino should get out of the Indo-Pacific
Published: Mar 21, 2024 10:56 PM
John Aquilino, commander of US forces in the Indo-Pacific Photo: VCG

John Aquilino, commander of US forces in the Indo-Pacific Photo: VCG

Admiral John Aquilino, the commander of US forces in the Indo-Pacific, has recently claimed that China, Russia, Iran, and North Korea are back to the "axis of evil," marking it the first time that a current senior US official and military leader has labeled China as part of the "axis of evil." Considering that Aquilino's forces directly confront the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA), his promotion of this stance in the US House of Representatives could poison mutual understanding between the Chinese and US militaries, posing a serious threat to regional peace. It will also fuel hostility toward China, leading to broader consequences.

The term "axis" was applied to political concepts, originating from the Axis powers alliance of Germany, Italy, and Japan during World War II. After the 9/11 attacks, the then US President George W. Bush launched a war on terror and declared North Korea, Iran, and Iraq (under Saddam Hussein's regime) the "axis of evil" supporting terrorism. Subsequently, the US further declared Cuba, Libya (under Muammar Gaddafi's regime), and Syria as "beyond the axis of evil."

In February 2022, US commentator Danielle Pletka first referred to China, Russia, Iran, and North Korea as the "new axis of evil." In October 2023, US Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said that Iran, North Korea, Russia, and China are the "axis of evil," with the White House responding at the time that "President Joe Biden is not 'slapping bumper stickers'" on other countries. Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo testified in the House in January this year, referring to China, Russia, Iran, North Korea, and Venezuela as the "new axis of evil." But before Aquilino, I did not find any US current senior officials using this malicious concept against China. China, including the PLA, should strongly condemn Aquilino's malicious smear, and the PLA should compel him to retract his statements through military diplomacy measures.

China is the world's largest trading nation, and we actively engage in economic cooperation with all countries in the region. Although China has territorial or border disputes with some countries, in recent years, China, which holds an absolute military advantage, has never used or threatened to use force as a lever to resolve these disputes. In the case of the Ren'ai Jiao and Huangyan Dao, the new Philippine government has broken the tacit agreement with China made by the previous government to manage differences and has repeatedly taken aggressive actions to create friction. However, China has always responded with restraint. Historically and today, which major power has dealt with a relatively weaker neighboring country with such patience?

Regarding terrorism, China is also a serious victim, and even the West has never made serious accusations of supporting terrorism against China. Where does China's "evil" come from? Aquilino is worried that the continuously developing relationship between China and Russia will become a "big portion" of what is "the most dangerous" he has seen in his 40-year service, but China-Russia relationship is a partnership, not an alliance. After the serious military conflict between Russia and Ukraine, China remained neutral and did not provide any weapons or equipment to Russia. Is this what an "axis" looks like? It is the US that forms alliances everywhere, rallying cliques. In my opinion, "AUKUS" looks more like the "axis of evil" of nuclear proliferation, and the US, Japan, and South Korea look like the "axis of evil" trying to stir up Northeast Asia. In addition, the US and Israel are more like living axes of evil. If senior PLA generals make such accusations in line with my questioning, how will the relevant countries feel?

As the military leader of the US in the Indo-Pacific region, Aquilino's interpretations align with domestic extremism in the US, suggesting that he harbors extremist evil intentions inherently. Having such a person lead the US Indo-Pacific Command poses a potential threat to the countries in this region. He should be rolled out from here.