Archive for the ‘Hainan’ Category

Behind the U.S. and China At Sea Incident

March 12, 2009

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and China’s Foreign Minister, Yang Jiechi, both agreed on Wednesday that China and the U.S. should work to ensure that incidents like Sunday’s showdown in the South China Sea “do not happen again.” The incident in question involved several Chinese naval vessels harassing a U.S. surveillance ship off the island of Hainan. But despite the soothing words of the two top diplomats, it’s a safe bet that more such incidents can be expected in the future. The Pentagon was quick to note that the mariners aboard the U.S.N.S. Impeccable were civilians working for the Military Sealift Command, while the Chinese side stressed that the confrontation involved local fishing boats. The reality is that the incident occurred because both sides are preparing for war — “shaping the battlefield,” in military jargon — for a conflict that both hope will never happen.

China’s Love/Hate Relationship With The U.S.

From Time Magazine

The USNS Impeccable is a surveillance ship that uses sonar to ...
The USNS Impeccable. Five Chinese vessels shadowed and maneuvered dangerously close to the Navy surveillance ship, prompting a U.S. protest
US Navy / AP

The U.S. wants to know how well it can track Chinese submarines moving in and out of their new and growing base off Hainan. And the Chinese want to prevent the U.S. from gathering such intelligence. Both sides claim legal cover for their actions, which suggests that similar showdowns will occur in the future. But such events, far from home and with few if any independent eyewitnesses, can quickly escalate into more serious confrontations — as in the case of the Gulf of Tonkin “attack” by North Vietnamese patrol boats against a pair of U.S. Navy destroyers that President Lyndon B. Johnson used as a pretext to win congressional support for his war in Vietnam. (See pictures of China’s border war with Vietnam.)

The U.S.-China confrontation took place while the Impeccable was sailing 75 miles south of China’s newest sub base, Yulin, at the southern tip of Hainan. The U.S. vessel carries sophisticated surveillance equipment that was in use — Chinese sailors used poles in an effort to snag the Impeccable’s towed acoustic array sonars, which dangle beneath the vessel. The gear was most likely being used to try to detect the movements of Chinese subs in and out of Yulin, where Beijing’s new Shang-class nuclear-powered attack subs have recently been spotted.

Any intelligence gathered would be useful in a future showdown. Because U.S. aircraft carriers would play a vital role in any clash with China over Taiwan, being able to bottle up Chinese subs at their base — and measuring the range from their base within which U.S. technology could be used to hunt them before they escape into the open sea, where they would be much more difficult to detect — are key U.S. intelligence goals. The data collected by vessels like the Impeccable, along with detailed maps of the ocean floor near the Chinese base that would guide U.S. sub hunters, are funneled into massive U.S. Navy databases that are invaluable in time of war. (The Impeccable joined three U.S. carriers in a 2007 war game in the western Pacific.)

China’s sensitivity about Hainan and the surrounding area is well-known. It was in the same area, early in 2001, that a Chinese J-8 fighter plane collided with a U.S. Navy spy plane, killing the fighter pilot and damaging the Navy’s EP-3 so severely that it and its 24-member crew were forced to land on the island, where they were held for 11 days in a tense diplomatic standoff. For both that run-in and this recent one, China said the U.S. was operating illegally inside its 200-mile “exclusive economic zone,” based on the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea. China signed that treaty, but the U.S. did not.

Most legal experts say the U.S. was well within its rights to prowl where it was at the time it was approached by the Chinese armada on Sunday. “The U.S. was collecting undersea data that is related to war-fighting and is not banned by the treaty rules covering exploitation of resources in the economic zone,” writes John McCreary, a military-intelligence veteran of more than three decades, on his NightWatch blog. “The Chinese are just angry that the U.S. Navy can watch them.”

The Impeccable eventually sailed free of the Chinese fleet, which included, according to Pentagon officials, a Chinese navy intelligence-collection ship, a Bureau of Maritime Fisheries patrol vessel, a State Oceanographic Administration patrol vessel and two small Chinese-flagged trawlers. McCreary noted that the two fishing trawlers involved were about as “civilian” as the government-owned U.S. spy ship. (A Pentagon-produced story about the event said a “civilian crew mans the ship,” a half-truth that was repeated around the world by other media outlets. In fact, about half its roughly 50-member crew is military.) “The Chinese, like the North Koreans, the Indians and the Soviets, maintain positive control of fishing fleets which come under military supervision in a crisis,” McCreary said on NightWatch on Wednesday. “Fishing boats are built to military standards, usually have weapons mounts or fittings for depth charges and have military-approved communications.” Thankfully, this time at least, the Impeccable slipped through the net.

Because Impeccable is unarmed, we are told she was joined at sea this week by USS Chung Hoon.

USS Ching Hoon in her home port, Pearl Harbor

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China Provoked Obama; Now Works To Smooth Situation: Why?

March 11, 2009

China probably provoked the U.S. at sea last weekend in an effort to gain an edge over new President Barack Obama.

China did just that, analysts now say, in the early months of George W. Bush’s presidency.

On April 1, 2001 , two Chinese J-8 fighter jets intercepted a U.S. Navy EP-3 surveillance aircraft that was 70 miles off Hainan Island , resulting in a collision with one of them, forcing it into the sea. The EP-3 made an emergency landing on Hainan , where China kept it captive for three months, long after the 24 crew members were released.

U.S. Navy P-3 aircraft

At that time, China used this approach: the U.S. violated intenational law, China was within its rights, the U.S. needs to back off.

China is fairly predictable and formulaic, sometimes.

When China was found to have a deadly disease called SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) spreading a few years ago (November 2002 to July 2003; over 700 people died)China used this media strategy: denial, discovery, immense response, media explosion of good news, return to normal.

China used this same play-book when accused of exporting all kinds of poisoned food products from toothpaste to dog and cat food, cough medicine, cookies, candy and seafood. 

Denial, discovery, immense response, media explosion of good news, return to normal.

When China was accused of building shoddy schools which quickly collapsed killing tens of thousands of school children in the recent earthquakes, the Chinese public response included denial, discovery, immense response, media explosion of good news, return to normal.

In 2006, Senator John McCain called China “immature” over its lack of effort in helping the U.S. and the world to address North Korea’s nuclear program. 

Laugh at McCain now — but North Korea remains a trouble spot in the world today only because China allows them to play that role.
Just this week, North Korea threatened war with the United States — a war that would certainly involve Japan and South Korea.  North Korea could not be making such threats and could not even think about testing a long range strategic missile just now unless China consented to this brazen move or at least looked the other way.  China supplies North Korea with almost all of its food, oil, luxury goods and currency.  Without China, North Korea would be impotent and meaningless.

China’s at sea provocation of international law and Barack Obama seems remarkably similar to previous Chinese forays into the mind of at least one previous President of the United States sending the unmistakable message: the U.S. violated intenational law, China was within its rights, the U.S. needs to back off.

John E. Carey
Wakefield Chapel, Virginia

An excellent report on the international law:


By FOSTER KLUG, Associated Press Writer

The top U.S. and Chinese diplomats have work to do to keep a confrontation between American and Chinese naval vessels from damaging a relationship that President Barack Obama deems crucial to confronting the world’s toughest crises.

Even if diplomatic efforts by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi are successful in toning down the dispute — the two were scheduled to meet Wednesday in Washington — they may ease anger only temporarily over a larger military disagreement.

Beijing has long complained about U.S. surveillance operations around China’s borders. Without better communications between the two militaries as they operate in the South China Sea, the possibility for future conflict will remain.

Clinton and Yang “can have a productive exchange to keep this bounded, but the real bureaucracies that need to be there aren’t going to be at the meeting,” said Jonathan Pollack, professor of Asian studies at the U.S. Naval War College.

This US Navy file photo shows the military Sealift Command ocean ... 
This US Navy file photo shows the military Sealift Command ocean surveillance ship USNS Impeccable (T-AGOS-23). Five Chinese vessels maneuvered dangerously close to a US Navy ship in the South China Sea on Sunday, March 8, 2009, approaching within 25 feet of the unarmed surveillance ship, the Pentagon said.(AFP/NVNS)

He suggested that without stronger military-to-military links, the potential for “something ugly” happening “should not be minimized.”

China says a U.S. Navy mapping ship confronted by Chinese vessels Sunday was operating illegally in China’s exclusive economic zone. The United States says Chinese ships surrounded and harassed the Navy vessel in international waters in the South China Sea.

Read the rest:


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 China’s Love/Hate Relationship With The U.S.

Behind the U.S. and China At Sea Incident

China Wants U.S. Out of Asia’s International Waters

March 10, 2009

The incident at sea between China and the U.S. Navy this last weekend indicates a growing truth among Chinese military officers: the seas adjacent to China wherever they extend are de facto Chinese terrirtory and the U.S. needs to leave.

This is in violation of international law which grants free passage to all who operate in international waters.

China is complaining saying the U.S. ship, while not in their territorial waters was in their “economic zone,” a claim that also pits the Chinese directly at odds with 5 countries (Taiwan, Philippines, Brunei, Vietnam and Malaysia) who would like to have their own territorial waters.

But China now has repeatedly expressed and demonstrated distain for international law — a a certain ability to push people around.

“They seem to be more militarily aggressive,” National Intelligence Director Dennis Blair told members of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

“I think the debate is still on in China whether as their military power increases they will be used for good or for pushing people around.”

But the Chinese say all the fault for this weekend’s incident belongs to the U.S. 

“Go and ask the Americans, ask their embassy,” China’s Vice Admiral Jin Mao, former PLA Navy vice commander in chief, told Reuters on the sidelines of parliament when asked about the incident. “Ask their officials what their ship was doing in Chinese waters.”

The fact is, the American ship operating in international waters is protected by international law — even if it is searching for submarines.


Beijing will take a tougher stand against other nations as its naval ambitions grow, said analyst Shi Yinhong.

“The United States is present everywhere on the world’s seas, but these kinds of incidents may grow as China’s naval activities expand,” Shi, an expert on regional security at Renmin University in Beijing, said.

Analyst Shi said the seas off Hainan were important to China’s projection of its influence with a modern naval fleet.

“The change is in China’s attitude. This reflects the hardening line in Chinese foreign policy and the importance we attach to the strategic value of the South China Sea.”

See a report from Reuters:

See also:

Chong-pin Lin, Professor at the Graduate Institute of International Affairs and Strategic Studies at Tamkang University in Taiwan says, “I think the objective of the grand strategy of China is to squeeze out, very slowly and very gradually, the influence of the United States in East Asia, without war.”

A budget analyst at the U.S. Navy in the Pentagon told Peace and Freedom, “Our futue problem is this: with our current and projected budget deficits and debt, the U.S. will not be able to afford the navy it has now — while China will grow and improve its navy and take whatever it wants in the world.  That is the trend we see.”

 Era of Obama, American Weakness Emboldens Russia, China, Iran, North Korea, Terrorists
 Pentagon: Chinese Ships Harassed Unarmed U.S. Navy Craft in International Waters

What’s China’s Long Term Global Strategy?

China uses naval showdown with U.S. to flex muscle

China Says U.S. Ship Was Breaking Law

China Says U.S. Ship Was Breaking Law