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Pentagon: Chinese Vessels Harassed Unarmed Ship

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  • Pentagon: Chinese Vessels Harassed Unarmed Ship

    Pentagon: Chinese vessels harassed unarmed ship
    44 minutes ago

    WASHINGTON (AP) — The Pentagon charged Monday that five Chinese ships shadowed and maneuvered dangerously close to a U.S. Navy vessel in an apparent attempt to harass the American crew.

    The Obama administration said the incident Sunday followed several days of "increasingly aggressive" acts by Chinese ships in the region.

    U.S. officials said a protest was to be delivered to Beijing's military attache at a Pentagon meeting Monday.

    "The unprofessional maneuvers by Chinese vessels violated the requirement under international law to operate with due regard for the rights and safety of other lawful users of the ocean," said Marine Maj. Stewart Upton, a Pentagon spokesman.

    A Chinese intelligence ship and four others surrounded the USNS Impeccable, an unarmed vessel with a civilian merchant marine crew, as the craft conducted ocean surveys in international waters in the South China Sea, the Defense Department said in a statement.

    The 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.

    "We expect Chinese ships to act responsibly and refrain from provocative activities that could lead to miscalculation or a collision at sea, endangering vessels and the lives of U.S. and Chinese mariners," Upton said.

    The incident came just a week after China and the U.S. resumed military-to-military consultations following a five-month suspension over American arms sales to Taiwan.

    It also comes as Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi is due in Washington this week to meet with U.S. officials.

    And it brings to mind the first foreign policy crisis that former President George Bush suffered with Beijing shortly after he took office — China's forced landing of a spy plane and seizure of the crew in April of 2001.

    Associated Press writers Lolita Baldor and Matthew Lee contributed to this story from Washington

  • #2
    U.S To Protest 'Harassment" by Chinese Ships

    U.S. to protest 'harassment' by Chinese ships

    The Obama administration says it will officially protest the way Chinese ships shadowed and even surrounded a U.S. Navy vessel in the South China Sea on Sunday, the Associated Press reports.

    The Defense Department says a Chinese intelligence ship and several others maneuvered dangerously close to the USNS Impeccable in what appeared to be an effort to harass the American crew.

    The protest will be delivered to Beijing’s military attache, the AP reports.

    The Defense Department says the Impeccable is an unarmed vessel with a civilian merchant marine crew and was conducting ocean surveys in international waters. It says the Navy sprayed one ship with water from fire hoses to force it away and the Chinese crew members stripped to their underwear and continued closing within 25 feet, the AP reports.


    • #3
      "way to go Lostinoz, get it here first!"
      "And with a collection of minds and talent, they survived"


      • #4
        China Says U.S. Naval Ship was Breaking Law

        China says U.S. naval ship was breaking law: report
        By Chris Buckley
        March 9, 2009

        BEIJING (Reuters) - China accused a U.S. naval ship of conducting illegal surveying off southern Hainan island, a Hong Kong TV website reported on Tuesday, after the Pentagon said Chinese vessels had harassed the ship in international waters.

        Global oil prices rose 3 percent on Monday, partly in a knee-jerk reaction to tension between the world's top oil consumers. But the confrontation was unlikely to do lasting damage to ties between two countries closely involved in trying to end the global financial crisis, a Chinese analyst said.

        The United States urged China to observe international maritime rules after the Pentagon said five Chinese ships, including a naval vessel, harassed the U.S. Navy ship in international waters.

        The Chinese vessels "shadowed and aggressively maneuvered in dangerously close proximity" to the USNS Impeccable, an unarmed ocean surveillance vessel, on Sunday, with one ship coming within 25 feet, a U.S. Defense Department statement said.

        The tropical resort island of Hainan is the site of a Chinese naval base that houses ballistic missile submarines, according to independent analysts.

        An unnamed spokesman for the Chinese embassy in Washington denied the Chinese ships had violated maritime rules and said U.S. ships had been conducting illegal surveying, the website of Hong Kong-based Phoenix Television ( reported.

        "The U.S. claim about operating in high seas is out of step with the facts," the report quoted the spokesman as saying. "The U.S. navy vessel concerned has been consistently conducting illegal surveying in China's exclusive economic zone," the station quoted the spokesman as saying.

        "China believes this contravenes international laws of the sea and China's relevant laws."

        Chinese authorities had "repeatedly used diplomatic channels to demand that the U.S. side cease unlawful activities in China's exclusive economic zone," the report added.

        The Chinese Foreign Ministry was unavailable for comment.

        U.S. defense officials said the incident followed days of increasingly aggressive Chinese conduct in the area, including fly-bys by Chinese maritime surveillance planes.

        It comes just weeks after the two sides resumed military talks, postponed in November after a U.S. announcement of arms sales to Taiwan, a self-ruled island China claims as its own.

        And it echoes a stand-off in 2001 between U.S. and Chinese military forces after a U.S. spy plane made an emergency landing on Hainan after a collision with a Chinese fighter jet. China released 24 crew after a U.S. apology.


        The dispute is unlikely to do deep damage to Sino-U.S. ties when both sides are grappling with the global financial crisis, but it suggests Beijing will take a tougher stance as its naval ambitions grow, said Shi Yinhong, an expert on regional security at Renmin University in Beijing.

        "The United States is present everywhere on the world's seas, but these kinds of incidents may grow as China's naval activities expand," said Shi.

        The Impeccable is one of five ocean surveillance ships that serve with the U.S. 7th Fleet, which is based in Yokosuka, Japan. The ships use low-frequency sound to search for undersea threats including submarines, a U.S. military official said.

        A U.S. Defense Department spokesman said the Chinese vessels had surrounded the Impeccable, waving Chinese flags and telling the U.S. ship to leave.

        The Pentagon also described accounts of half a dozen other incidents dating back to March 4, in which the Impeccable and its sister vessel, USNS Victorious, were subjected to aggressive behavior.

        Oil prices rose on news of the maritime jostling, although analysts said it was hard to see how the tension could threaten oil supplies or inflate prices.

        "I can see the geopolitical risk between two producing countries. But the U.S. and China are two major consumers. I don't know why oil prices would rise on that," said Tony Nunan, risk management manager at Tokyo-based Mitsubishi Corp.

        The confrontation coincides with two sensitive anniversaries in Tibet, making China especially sensitive to outside scrutiny of its affairs. It also comes as neighboring North Korea says it is on full combat readiness in response to the start of annual military exercises by U.S. and South Korean troops.

        Analyst Shi said the seas off Hainan were important to China's projection of its influence with a modern naval fleet.

        "The change is in China's attitude. This reflects the hardening line in Chinese foreign policy and the importance we attach to the strategic value of the South China Sea."

        Denny Roy, an expert on Asia-Pacific security at the East-West Center in Honolulu, Hawaii, said the confrontation appeared intended to send a message to Washington.

        "I don't think this happened spontaneously," he said. "...No doubt it had the endorsement of central leaders in Beijing."

        A recent study of China's rising power by a top People's Liberation Army thinktank said the country should seek to avoid confrontation with Washington but not shrink when pressed.

        "We don't want to stir up trouble, but nor will we fear it," said the study published last year by the PLA Academy of Military Science in Beijing.

        "Especially on core interests involving our country's national unity and territorial integrity, we must keep an actively enterprising stance, defying brute force and daring to flash our sword."

        (Additional reporting by Ian Ransom in Beijing and David Morgan in Washington; Editing by Nick Macfie and Dean Yates)


        • #5
          Rising Navy, Assertiveness Behind U.S.-China Flap

          Rising navy, assertiveness behind US-China flap
          The Associated Press

          Wed, Mar 11, 2009 (9:39 a.m.)

          China's weekend scrap with a U.S. Navy surveillance ship is drawing attention to a new submarine base that Beijing is using to strengthen its presence on the strategically vital South China Sea, which it claims as a whole.

          For the second day running, the Foreign Ministry in Beijing fired back Wednesday at U.S. complaints over what the Pentagon called harassment of the U.S. Navy mapping ship by Chinese boats in international waters about 75 miles (120 kilometers) off its southern island province of Hainan.

          U.S. claims that the USNS Impeccable was operating legally within China's exclusive economic zone when it was harassed by Chinese boats are "gravely in contravention of the facts and unacceptable to China," spokesman Ma Zhaoxu said in a statement posted on the ministry's Web site.

          Ma's comments, a virtual repeat of those made at a news conference Tuesday, showed neither side was prepared to back down, even as they prepare for a much-anticipated first meeting between Hu and President Barack Obama at next month's G20 summit in London.

          The issue also could come up Wednesday in Washington, where Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi is scheduled to meet with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.

          Defense Department officials say the Impeccable was on a mission to seek out threats such as submarines and was towing a sonar apparatus that scans and listens for subs, mines and torpedoes. With its numerous Chinese military installations, Hainan offers rich hunting for such surveillance.

          Of particular interest is the new submarine base near the resort city of Sanya that is home to the Chinese navy's most sophisticated craft.

          Photographs of the base taken last year and posted on the Internet by the Federation of American Scientists show a submarine cave entrance and a pier, with a Chinese nuclear-powered Jin class sub docked there.

          While little else is known, its location on the South China Sea offers the People's Liberation Army Navy access to crucial waterways through which much of the shipping bound for Japan and Northeast Asia must travel.

          High-seas encounters such as the Impeccable incident are likely to grow more common because China wants to assert its right to protect its secrets in the area, while the U.S. wants to gain as much knowledge as possible about China's subs and the underwater terrain, according to maritime policy analyst Mark Valencia.

          "Thus such incidents are likely to be repeated and become more dangerous and they do not pertain to China and the U.S. alone," Valencia wrote in an article posted Wednesday on the Web site of the Far Eastern Economic Review.

          China's claim to the entire South China Sea and its hundreds of islands and reefs overlaps with those of a half-dozen other nations, leading to occasional clashes and standoffs. Increasingly, China's rapid naval upgrade, exemplified by the Hainan base, is putting muscle behind its arguments.

          From Russia, China has purchased a dozen Kilo-class diesel submarines, Sovremmenny class destroyers and supersonic Sunburn and Sizzler anti-ship missiles. China's own advanced Shang, Song and Yuan class submarines are being produced at a rapid tick, and there is increasing talk of an aircraft carrier being launched in coming years.

          President and Communist Party leader Hu Jintao, who also heads the commissions overseeing the armed forces, called on the military Wednesday to pick up the pace of modernization to "resolutely safeguard the country's sovereignty, security and territorial integrity."

          China's territorial claims are sharpened still more by Beijing's interpretation of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. China sees the convention as giving it the right to ban a broad range of activities within its exclusive economic zone. That grates against the U.S. position that the Navy ships were in international waters and therefore have the right to conduct surveying.

          Those dueling claims also lay at the heart of the last major confrontation between the two militaries, a 2001 mid-air collision between a Chinese fighter jet and a U.S. spy plane in international air space south of Hainan.

          This time, Beijing appears to be pressing its stance even harder, citing both the U.N. convention and its own domestic laws and regulations.

          "The Chinese government always handles such activities strictly in accordance with these laws and regulations," the Foreign Ministry's Ma said in his statement.