• The Heritage Network
    • Resize:
    • A
    • A
    • A
  • Donate
  • A Slap of Reality in the South China Sea

    A crew member on a Chinese trawler uses a grapple hook in an apparent attempt to snag the towed acoustic array of the military Sealift Command ocean surveillance ship USNS Impeccable (T-AGOS-23) in the South China Sea on March 8, 2009. Impeccable was conducting routine survey operations in international waters 75 miles south of Hainan Island when it was harassed by five Chinese vessels.

    Two weeks ago the Obama Administration celebrated the first successful U.S.-China military-to-military talks of the new administration. Then this past Sunday, they found out relations with China were not always going to be so easy. Five Chinese ships harassed the USNS Impeccable in international waters off the cost of Hainan Island forcing it take emergency defensive maneuvers. In the New York Post Heritage senior analyst Peter Brookes places the incident in context:

    Beijing claims Impeccable was violating its sovereignty by conducting operations within China’s 200-mile Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) as identified under the United Nations’ 1982 Law of the Sea Treaty. Thing is, the treaty doesn’t give Beijing any right to veto activities outside their 12-mile territorial waters – and Impeccable was more than 60 miles beyond China’s national waters.

    The treaty gives them a right to object to certain economic activities in their EEZ, such as drilling for oil/gas or fishing – but that right clearly doesn’t extend to noneconomic activities, including military operations, in international waters.

    The new team needs to realize that the United States must exercise its rights in international airspace and waters as we have done for years, including the right to monitor China’s secretive and unprecedented military buildup – a significant worry to us and others.

    Of course, given the White House’s softly-softly approach to international affairs, it’s no wonder the Chinese felt it was time to test our mettle after years of relatively quiet relations during the Bush administration. Imagine what they – and others, such as North Korea, Russia and Iran – have now concluded.

    Posted in Security [slideshow_deploy]

    9 Responses to A Slap of Reality in the South China Sea

    1. Franklin's Lock says:

      This just proves how leadership through strength works and not through complacency and weakness. China is pushing us around because Obama’s diplomacy express weakness and lack of leadership.


    2. Ozzy6900, CT says:

      My message to the Obama Administration and Red China is simple. "If you continue to fly the flag of Communism, we (the USA) will monitor your every move."

    3. jack carmody says:

      Teddy Roosevelt, Where are you now? The chinese, are challenging the Stars and Stripes. The mexicans are taking over our country, and A black gangster socialist is in charge of our military. Please come back and help us take these fools out of our leadership and start kicking countrys"Butts" who violate our Soverignity"

    4. Spiritof76, New Hamp says:

      At the rate that we are going towards socialism in this country, Comrade Obama will have decided that there shouldn't be any conflict among fellow socialists and will withdraw our troops and military operations from Asia. As a matter of fact, right today, there is a better capitalistic climate in Peoples Republic of China.

    5. Jamey, Central Calif says:

      Americans as a whole have been let down by the education system. Lets go ALL the way to basics. Might equals right. If yourself and ONE other are all there are left on an island, and he/she can kick your booty, and you have no weapons to even out the fight, then you lose. The better/meaner individual wins by default. Their interpretation or rather "rules" go. Like it or not, this is how the world is. Now, if you have a bunch of people, you need rules that you can agree upon to live together peaceably. Thus we have societies. Some times, we need to revert, to put some "societies" into the realm of "ok, we will live by that rule." They might even have a black eye in saying it. One must never forget though that America has fought for the just cause, and the innocent since our inception, (for the most part) and everyone else tries to force their will. WE uphold the right of the common man to rule his own house. Not be ruled. The left CONSTANTLY forget this. Thus the ebb and flow of our election cycle. I think alot of Americans "know" this down deep inside on an almost instinctual level but don't think about it enough or how to express it in words. This is how Obama won. He was/is vague enough that nothing "feels" wrong, so he must be the guy. Conservatives have a HUGE educational battle ahead. The chinese actions are the equivalent of a big guy sizing up the new guy. The real question is, has Obama hurt the people that will back him up, or is he left out there alone?

    6. Chris, Dayton says:

      Obama has ordered the US naval destroyer USS Chung-Hoon (DDG-93) to provide armed escort to these ships for the foreseeable future. The administration reiterated that US ships will continue to operate in international waters. Whatever you think of his domestic policies, this a far more forceful response than Bush had in 2001 where he sent a "we're sorry" letter to the Chinese, after a Chinese fighter crashed into one of our planes no less.

    7. Ed from Ansonia, Pa. says:

      Obama has convinced the world that we will now strive for their good opinion. The problem is that the world-class political game is a species of street fight. Seeking the good opinions of others makes you the neighborhood target.

    8. chris, ny says:

      I just don't think this is productive at all if one wants to build a more cooperative relationship at a time of severe financial crisis. Simply put the shoe on the other foot, I don't know how I would feel if I hear that a Chinese ship is carrying out similar activities 60 miles outside of our naval bases such as Annapolis or Norfolk.

    9. chris, ny says:

      I just don’t think this is productive at all if we want to build a more cooperative relationship at a time of severe financial crisis that we are facing today. Simply put the shoe on the other foot, I don’t know how I would feel if I hear that a Chinese ship is carrying out similar activities 60 miles outside of our naval bases in Annapolis or Norfolk.

    Comments are subject to approval and moderation. We remind everyone that The Heritage Foundation promotes a civil society where ideas and debate flourish. Please be respectful of each other and the subjects of any criticism. While we may not always agree on policy, we should all agree that being appropriately informed is everyone's intention visiting this site. Profanity, lewdness, personal attacks, and other forms of incivility will not be tolerated. Please keep your thoughts brief and avoid ALL CAPS. While we respect your first amendment rights, we are obligated to our readers to maintain these standards. Thanks for joining the conversation.

    Big Government Is NOT the Answer

    Your tax dollars are being spent on programs that we really don't need.

    I Agree I Disagree ×

    Get Heritage In Your Inbox — FREE!

    Heritage Foundation e-mails keep you updated on the ongoing policy battles in Washington and around the country.