China’s weekend scrap with a U.S. Navy surveillance ship is drawing attention to a new submarine base that Beijing is using to strengthen its presence on the strategically vital , which it claims as a whole.
By CHRISTOPHER BODEEN, Associated Press
For the second day running, the Foreign Ministry in Beijing fired back Wednesday at U.S. complaints over what the Pentagon called harassment of the U.S. Navy mapping ship by Chinese boats in international waters about 75 miles (120 kilometers) off its southern island province of .
U.S. claims that the USNS Impeccable was operating legally within China‘s exclusive when it was harassed by Chinese boats are “gravely in contravention of the facts and unacceptable to China,” spokesman Ma Zhaoxu said in a statement posted on the ministry’s Web site.
Ma’s comments, a virtual repeat of those made at a news conference Tuesday, showed neither side was prepared to back down, even as they prepare for a much-anticipated first meeting between Hu and President Barack Obama at next month’s G20 summit in London.
The issue also could come up Wednesday in Washington, where State Hillary Rodham Clinton.is scheduled to meet with U.S. Secretary of
Defense Department officials say the Impeccable was on a mission to seek out threats such as submarines and was towing a sonar apparatus that scans and listens for subs, mines and torpedoes. With its numerous Chinese military installations, Hainan offers rich hunting for such surveillance.
Of particular interest is the new submarine base near the resort city of Sanya that is home to the Chinese navy’s most sophisticated craft.
Photographs of the base taken last year and posted on the Internet by the Federation of American Scientists show a submarine cave entrance and a pier, with a Chinese nuclear-powered Jin class sub docked there.
While little else is known, its location on the South China Sea offers the People’s Liberation Army Navy access to crucial waterways through which much of the shipping bound for Japan and Northeast Asia must travel.
Kilo submaine is a Russian design. China, Iran and India also have these very quiet subs.