South Korea on Wednesday took its first steps to penalize North Korea for its artillery attack on a South Korean island, announcing a naval drill with a U.S. carrier group, cutting off humanitarian assistance and halting traffic into the North.
The U.S. and South Korean navies said their joint exercise would begin Sunday in the Yellow Sea and that a U.S. aircraft carrier, the USS George Washington, and its related group of ships would participate.
Though both countries said the exercise had been planned for weeks, its announcement provided a chance to gauge China's reaction to the North Korean attack. Chinese officials vehemently protested when the U.S. and South Korea considered staging such a drill in the Yellow Sea in July. The two countries instead conducted the drill on the east side of the Korean peninsula.
There was no immediate response from the Chinese government, although Chinese foreign-policy experts said they expected Beijing to protest.
This article alludes to a fascinating sub-plot to this high stakes drama: The role and reaction of the Chinese government. That element, perhaps even more so than the current crisis itself, will have major ramifications for our continued military posture in the region. China's response so far does not bode especially well for future Sino-American relations, in my estimation.