Monitoring China’s Provocations

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The Chinese survey vessel,  Hai Yang Di Zhi 8, arrived in Malaysian waters along with a supporting Chinese task force on April 16 and is currently surveying an area within Malaysia’s exclusive economic zone, between the West Capella and Malaysia’s coast.

Hai Yang Di Zhi 8, engaging in belligerent behavior in Malaysian waters

The Hai Yang Di Zhi 8 is accompanied by China Coast Guard (CCG) and People’s Armed Forces Maritime Militia ships. Two CCG ships, the Zhongguohaijing 4203 and 1105, are sailing alongside the Hai Yang. Another CCG ship, the Haijing 5203, has been sailing in and around Luconia Shoals since April 1, apparently securing the area for the Chinese task force.

Chinese Coast Guard ship of the Zhongguohaijing Class

As of Tuesday morning, the Hai Yang Di Zhi 8 was roughly 180 nautical miles from the Malaysian coast – but only 100 nautical miles from the Luconia Shoals, which are claimed by both China and Malaysia in the southernmost part of the South China Sea. On April 17, the Hai Yang Di Zhi 8 was also within 200 nautical miles of Indonesia’s Natuna Island.

China has said that the Hai Yang Di Zhi 8 is conducting normal activities and has accused U.S. officials of smearing Beijing. That followed State and Defense Department statements strongly critical of China’s recent activities in the South China Sea, particularly the April 2 sinking of a Vietnamese fishing vessel in a confrontation with a China Coast Guard ship. The US State Department accused China of exploiting nations’ distraction over COVID-19 to expand its unlawful claims in the South China Sea.

The United States responding by sending the USS America, LHA-6 and the Ticonderoga Class cruiser, USS Bunker Hill, CG-52 to the site of the ongoing illegal survey by the Chinese task force in Malaysian waters. The move signals Washington’s support for other countries in the region as China presses its advantage in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic.

guided missile cruiser USS BUNKER HILL (CG-52)

LCDR Nicole Schwegman, spokeswoman for U.S. Indo-Pacific Command said, “Through our continued operational presence in the South China Sea, we are working with our allies and partners to promote freedom of navigation and overflight, and the international principles that underpin security and prosperity for the Indo-Pacific.”

In addition to helicopters and Osprey tilt rotor aircraft, the USS America has twenty F-35B jets onboard to defend American interests.

Malaysia’s coast guard last week confirmed that the Chinese survey ship was in Malaysian waters.

Beijing faces diplomatic pushback from some of its Southeast Asian neighbors against its sweeping assertion of sovereignty across the resource-rich sea.

At the weekend, China upped the ante when it announced two new administrative districts for South China Sea and released a new map naming all the islands and reefs it claims in the contested region – though Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam also have sovereignty claims that overlap with China’s.

The U.S. is using this deployment to remind China and other claimants in the South China Sea that China has no legal basis to economic rights in the area that the Hai Yang Di Zhi 8 is operating in.

16 thoughts on “Monitoring China’s Provocations

  1. It appears to me that China’s not letting a good crisis go to waste. I’m just glad Trump’s in charge now. I can well imagine how Hillary would have handled it, or Biden.

    1. If China wants to keep ratcheting it up, they may end up getting what they wish for.

  2. No legal basis. But they obviously think intent sufficient. Will we be able to force them to leave in this game of “chicken”?

    1. I don’t know where this is headed, but things are wearing thin with China’s neighbors.

      In a related but separate matter – Today’s Headlines:

      President Donald Trump said on Wednesday he had instructed the U.S. Navy to fire on any Iranian ships that harass it at sea, a week after 11 vessels from Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy (IRGCN) came dangerously close to U.S. ships in the Gulf.

      ‘I have instructed the United States Navy to shoot down and destroy any and all Iranian gunboats if they harass our ships at sea,’ Trump wrote in a tweet, hours after Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps said it had launched the country’s first military satellite into orbit.

  3. There’s a Burke with the America group too now, and the Aussies sent an ANZAC class.
    Hopefully an attack boat or two lurking around, also.

    -Kle.

    1. I’m guessing that there is more than one SSN in the area to protect against enemy submarines. Time to see if the Chinese want to play.

  4. China posturing for a fight? Seems so. They will lose…badly…fully forgetting the world hates them for COVID.

    Thanks for the intelligent update NOT heard from the inane mainstream media outlets (that would be all of them).

    1. The Chinese plan to build another “Island” to secure their claims. I sense that the US will oppose those efforts, and if the situation deteriorates, we’ll get to use some of those expensive toys to build artificial reefs out of Chinese Coast Guard vessels.

      The Chinese should just come clean and paint “Chinese Pirate Ship” on the side of their coast guard ships – more truth in advertising required.

      1. Sea creatures love tooling around in sunken sheetmetal, especially ones from Pirate Ships sent to Davey Jones Locker.

  5. Wonder if a NK ID’d fishing boat could call for help from the Chi-coms and have a surprise party for them ala the Cole? Wouldn’t that be fun?! They seem to like stirring the pot, turnabout is fair play.

    1. All you’d need to do is sail ANY fishing boat through the South China Sea and the Chinese Coast Guard would attempt to seize and capture the vessel. That’s what they do. Having a submarine near by to sink them is what we should have done with the USS Pueblo so many years ago.

  6. You have some insights on China. Are the activities in the South China Sea being directed by the senior leadership, or rouge activities? With a population of a billion, how do the mandarins in Beijing keep tight control?

  7. Yep, had the CCG follow us around a few times down in that area. At least we had overwatch from the JMSDF and USN assets. This one has the potential to blow up in their faces big time, because the Aussies are using Butterworth again.

  8. The Chinese seem to be pushing as hard and as far as they can to see what they can get away with. They got away…so far….with a bioweapon oopsie that has nearly crippled the world. While everyone is distracted get are going to raid the cookie jar. Unless they get smacked down hard an soon they will likely end up precipitating an actual shooting war…..to go along with the asymmetric hybrid war they’ve been waging against the west and the US specifically.

  9. China’s destroyers have updated SS22’s to circumvent our AEGIS.
    Taiwan buying subs from us.

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