So there's a new administration in office in the US. It ardently wants good relations with China. It even sends the new Secretary of State there on her first major foreign trip, to emphasize the importance of Asia and China. They are so pathetically eager to please that lots of observers think if China comes up sweet, they will tie Taiwan up in a neat ribbon for delivery to Beijing.
It probably wouldn't be a good idea to dangerously harass a US navy ship in international waters, then. Wouldn't now be a good time to take it easy. I mean, why give ammunition to the panda bashers....?
Defense officials in the Obama administration said the incident Sunday followed several days of "increasingly aggressive" acts by Chinese ships in the region. The incident took place in international waters in the South China Sea, about 75 miles south of Hainan Island.The Chinese have harassed other US naval vessels in international waters, such as the USS Bowditch in 2001 and 2002, which were in all probability on listening missions. Of course, everyone remembers the infamous Hainan Island incident in which a Chinese fighter jockey misjudged his approach to a US surveillance aircraft, which was forced to land in Chinese territory -- in the first year of the Bush Administration, just as this comes early in Obama's tenure. More of the same, but hopefully it will serve as a timely reminder to the Obama Administration.....
U.S. officials said a protest was to be delivered to Beijing's military attache at a Pentagon meeting Monday.
The USNS Impeccable sprayed one ship with water from fire hoses to force it away. Despite the force of the water, Chinese crew members stripped to their underwear and continued closing within 25 feet, the Defense Department said.
"On March 8, 2009, five Chinese vessels shadowed and aggressively maneuvered in dangerously close proximity to USNS Impeccable, in an apparent coordinated effort to harass the U.S. ocean surveillance ship while it was conducting routine operations in international waters," the Pentagon statement said.
The Chinese ships included 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, officials said.
"The Chinese vessels surrounded USNS Impeccable, two of them closing to within 50 feet, waving Chinese flags and telling Impeccable to leave the area," officials said in the statement.
"Because the vessels' intentions were not known, Impeccable sprayed its fire hoses at one of the vessels in order to protect itself," the Defense statement said. "The Chinese crew members disrobed to their underwear and continued closing to within 25 feet."
Impeccable crew radioed to tell the Chinese ships that it was leaving the area and requested a safe path to navigate, the Pentagon said.
But shortly afterward, two of the Chinese ships stopped directly ahead of the Impeccable, forcing it to an emergency stop to avoid collision because the Chinese had dropped pieces of wood in the water directly in front of Impeccable's path.
UPDATE: FAS and other sources are indicating it is part of a larger cat-and-mouse game over subs. D'oh. It is irrelevant. The level of risk taking here is unacceptable -- it is one thing to track each other's subs, quite another to risk a serious incident.
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