China Testing New Administration At Sea
Just like they did with the EP-3 forcedown at the beginning of the Bush Administration, it appears that the Chinese military is seeing how far they can go with the new Obama Administration with respect to keeping the U.S. military out of international waters near China. Excerpts:
China lashed out Tuesday at the United States, accusing a U.S. Navy ship of violating international law during a tense confrontation near a secret Chinese submarine base.Information Dissemination, as expected, has much more on this story. Since China isn't even able to claim we're violating their coastal waters, but rather their 200 nm "exclusive economic zone", it's clear we need to do whatever is needed to ensure the freedom of navigation for all in these international waters. I suggest sending a destroyer or two, with a Carrier Strike Group within range to provide support if needed. This is one case where President Obama can't afford even the perception of weakness. If history serves as a guide here, once he demonstrates his will, the Chinese will back down. If he doesn't, it could get ugly, and fast.
The Pentagon said five Chinese vessels blocked and surrounded a U.S. surveillance ship, the Impeccable, in international waters on Sunday. One of the ships came within 25 feet, or 8 meters, of the U.S. boat, the Pentagon said...
...The encounter on Sunday was the latest in a series of recent incidents in which Chinese ships shadowed the towering, twin-hulled Impeccable. The Pentagon said the confrontation took place in the South China Sea, about 120 kilometers, or 75 miles, from Hainan Island, where China has an underground naval complex with submarine caves.
A U.S. Navy photograph obtained by The New York Times showed a Chinese sailor holding a long pole, and a navy spokesman confirmed that the Chinese had used a grappling hook to try to snag a cable that the Impeccable was using to tow an underwater listening device known as a Surtass array.
Update 1007 12 March: It has happened as I foretold:
The Navy has assigned a heavily armed destroyer to escort the U.S. surveillance ship that got into a high-seas confrontation with Chinese ships last weekend.USS Chung-Hoon (DDG 93) was last in the news for being a "Love Boat" back in 2005. I'm guessing that President Obama did exactly what he was supposed to do in this case-- approve the recommendation of his military advisors to not back down and let the Chinese know our policies with respect to freedom of navigation haven't changed. I'm calling this a good sign of things to come.
A defense official says the Hawaii-based destroyer "Chung-Hoon" is keeping a close eye on the unarmed sub-hunting ship "Impeccable" as it continues operations in the South China Sea. The official spoke on condition of anonymity to describe sensitive ship movements.
The official says the escort ship joined the Impeccable on Wednesday.