Navigation freedom can’t threaten China’s national security

20-Dec-2016 Intellasia | Global Times | 6:00 AM Print This Post

According to the Pentagon and the US media, a Chinese Type 922 salvage ship on Thursday “seized” an unmanned underwater drone deployed by the US Navy in the South China Sea. Two unmanned gliders released by the USNS Bowditch, an oceanographic and surveillance ship, were coming to the surface when the Chinese navy vessel “grabbed” one of them before the US sailors could, the US side claimed.

The Pentagon said the incident happened about 50 nautical miles northwest of the Philippines’ Subic Bay. But it was also reported by some US media that the distance was 100 nautical miles. The Pentagon accused the action by the Chinese navy of not being in “keeping with international law” and being “unprofessional,” and it demanded the immediate return of the drone.

A Chinese military source told the Global Times Saturday that the Chinese navy lifeboat located an unidentified device in the South China Sea waters. In order to prevent navigation safety problems, it “verified and examined” the device. Then the Chinese side received a claim request for the equipment from the US side. The incident will be solved “smoothly,” the source said.

We welcome that the Chinese navy is conducting regular “verification and examination” of devices dispatched by the US to collect intelligence in China’s surrounding waters in future. This should go along with US sabotage activities in China’s periphery.

The US claimed that the glider was collecting unclassified data such as salinity and water temperature, which are routine operations in accordance with international law. However, this argument is absurd.

The USNS Bowditch has appeared in the waters around China now and then. It caused a dispute between China and the US in the Yellow Sea in 2002. The surveillance ship has been engaged in maritime intelligence gathering, posing a long-term threat to the safety of Chinese navy vessels, especially submarines.

It’s well-known that the South China Sea is an important area where Chinese strategic submarines conduct activities. Intelligence gathering activities by the US Navy in the region are very rampant.

China and the US have confronted each other over US intelligence gathering in China’s periphery for a long time. In 2001, a US Navy intelligence aircraft collided with a Chinese jet. In 2009, several Chinese fishing vessels besieged US surveillance ship USNS Impeccable.

Many people worry that the US Navy has collected too much information about China’s naval base in Hainan Island, and it may even have deployed underwater devices that can continuously send signals.

The US has always claimed its practices are consistent with international law and regards maritime reconnaissance operations targeting China as a key aspect of “freedom of navigation in the South China Sea.” This is a typical hegemonic approach. It’s common sense that freedom of navigation should not harm China’s national security. With the increase in China’s defensive capabilities, we believe such a common-sense approach will win more respect.

If one day Chinese navy ships conduct intelligence gathering around US coastlines and its surrounding waters, what will the US think? It’s worth noting that it won’t take a long time for the Chinese ships to develop such capabilities. Does the US want the two countries to engage in offshore intelligence gathering one-upmanship? China knows the strength of the US Navy. But no matter how powerful the US Navy is, it cannot act on the bottom line of China’s security. Otherwise, misunderstandings and frictions are bound to occur.


Category: China

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