Home > Analysis, News, politics > Fakes News Alert: U.S. Challenges Chinese “Excessive” Maritime Claims by Exercising ‘Freedom of navigation’ near Meiji Jiao (Mischief Reef)

Fakes News Alert: U.S. Challenges Chinese “Excessive” Maritime Claims by Exercising ‘Freedom of navigation’ near Meiji Jiao (Mischief Reef)

This site was created to counter Western media bias – propaganda – or “Fake News” using today’s vernacular – about China.  Here is another one.

Wall Street Journal recently reports that the U.S. Navy has just Conducted its First South China Sea Navigation Operation Under President Trump, and that such ‘Freedom of navigation’ patrols represent a direct challenge by the U.S. to China’s excessive maritime claims.

This appears to be another bull shit, moronic piece of propaganda from Western news establishments.

There is little details in the report that describes what the Pentagon did exactly.  But according to this R.T. article, the Pentagon appears to go out of its way not to directly challenge China’s legal claims.

In a statement to The Japan Times, the Pentagon refused to confirm or deny the report. The Wall Street Journal also failed to get a definitive answer from the Pentagon.

“We operate in the Asia-Pacific region on a daily basis, including in the South China Sea,” Capt. Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesman, told the publication in a statement.

“We operate in accordance with international law,” he added, emphasizing the patrols are “not about any one country, or any one body of water.”

While the Pentagon is reluctant to confirm the reports, photos posted on Commander – the US’ Third Fleet Facebook page – appeared to show the US vessel sailing the disputed waters. “USS Dewey (DDG 105) transits the South China Sea before a replenishment-at-sea with USNS Pecos (T-AO-197),” the picture post reads.

However I look at this, I don’t see how this represents a “challenge” to China’s territorial or maritime claims.  Under the UNCLOS, territorial waters is defined to be generally 12 nautical miles from a nation’s coastlines.  But territorial waters does not constitute closed waters – or “internal waters”per se.  Even under U.S. gov’t interpretations, while “the coastal State exercises sovereignty over its territorial sea, the air space above it, and the seabed and subsoil beneath it … foreign ships enjoy the right of innocent passage while transiting the territorial sea subject to laws and regulations adopted by the coastal State that are in conformity with the Law of the Sea Convention and other rules of international law relating to such passage.”

And it looks like by all accounts what the U.S. is doing “innocent passage” if all it was doing was “passing through.” According to the the Wall Street Journal article above, the US warship passed near Mischief Reef in the Spratly Islands on Wednesday under the “Freedom of Navigation” principle.

So what’s the big deal? China has never complained about ships just passing through under principles of freedom of navigation. Quite the contrary, it has gone out of its way to tell everyone that the S. China Seas are open for ships of all countries to pass through unperturbed.

So – why is this a “challenge,” when passage through territorial water per se is allowed / guaranteed even under UNLOS’ definition of “territorial waters”?

Now, don’t get me wrong. The Chinese government has not made any pretense that it is not happy about U.S. Navy poking around in its backwaters.  As Chinese officials have made abundantly clear multiple times: while China respects the principles of freedom of navigation and overflight, it disapproves of other states undermining its sovereignty using “freedom of navigation” pretext.

But as far as the U.S. navy sailing within 12 nautical miles of any of China’s claimed territories, it does not diminish any of China’s legal claims in any way.  It however does promote mistrust between the two sides, politically as well as militarily.

The U.S. and Japan really ought to consider such provocations carefully.  It is only a matter of time until China will field a Blue Water Navy that challenges that of the U.S. and Japan.  Will U.S. welcome Chinese navy exercising “FON” near its islands and coasts – around Hawaii – Alaska – and California?  Will Japan welcome Chinese navy doing the same around its islands – including the many minor islands in the Pacific that it holds “tenuous” if not “dubious” claims?

The U.S. may think being pompously loud makes it seem big, but those in the know, it actually makes it look small…

  1. July 20th, 2017 at 09:00 | #1

    Interesting comparison: Danish, UK and Dutch ships escorted Chinese ships traveling in the Baltic Seas for exercises with Russian Navy.

    https://www.rt.com/news/396795-eu-navy-chinese-ships/

    British, Dutch and Danish ships have escorted a trio of Chinese vessels which are heading to the Baltic Sea to conduct the first stage of joint drills with Russian ships.

    “A Chinese frigate, a supply ship and a destroyer are passing through Danish waters. We are escorting [them] as part of the normal surveillance we have in our territorial waters,” Klaus Thing Rasmussen, senior duty officer at the Danish military operations center, told the DR broadcaster.

    Rasmussen, however, declined to reveal the exact location of the Chinese ships.

    “We sent one unit out to them last night, when they were approaching Danish waters. It will take around a day in total until they leave again near Bornholm, where they entered, and we will escort them the entire way,” he said.

    “Our position is that there is free passage through the Baltic Sea, and the Danish Navy acts as a stopper in the gap. That means we accompany foreign state vessels as part of our surveillance of Danish waters,” he added.

    The Chinese flotilla hasn’t had much time to itself as it moves towards the Baltic. On Monday, the Dutch navy confirmed that its fleet had also dispatched an escort.

    During the weekend, the Chinese vessels were also escorted by ‘HMS Richmond’, a Type 23 frigate of the UK Royal Navy.

    “We can confirm that ‘HMS Richmond’ has escorted a Chinese Navy Task Group through the UK area of interest,” a Royal Navy spokesperson told the Sun.

    Is this what China should do next time U.S. conduct its FONOP?

    Did China notify the UK and Dutch and Danish authorities before entering their “territorial” waters / “areas of interest”? Did they ask to be “escorted”? Or were they met with escort even while traveling through open waters or exercising innocent passage through “territorial waters”?

    If China did not “notify” ahead of time nor “obtained permission,” would China sailing through “challenge” territorial waters of other nations or impede the interests of other nations?

    Must China make such show of force to protect its “legal interests”?

    Notice UK’s sending ships to intercept on merely “areas of interest.”

    Interesting lesson China can learn going forward… especially as China’s navy gets stronger…

You must be logged in to post a comment.