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March 09, 2009

China Tests The New Kid UPDATE: Not The First Time This Has Happened Recently

Chalk one up for Sheriff Joe, the Chinese (aka, the underwriters of Obama's debt run up) are checking out how Obama will respond to a push.

Five Chinese ships including a Chinese naval vessel harassed a U.S. Navy ship in the South China Sea on Sunday, at one point closing to within 25 feet of the ocean surveillance ship, the Pentagon said.

A Defense Department statement said the Chinese vessels "shadowed and aggressively maneuvered in dangerously close proximity" to the USS Impeccable, which was conducting routine operations in international waters 75 miles south of Hainan Island.

The Pentagon identified the Chinese vessels as a Navy intelligence ship, a bureau of maritime fisheries patrol vessel, a state oceanographic administration patrol vessel, and two small Chinese-flagged trawlers.

...The Navy ship responded by spraying one of the vessels with its fire hoses, but the Chinese ship closed further to within 25 feet and its crew members disrobed to their underwear, the Pentagon said.

I'm guessing in Chinese culture underwear is a great insult as opposed just being silly and rather embarrassing.

Let's see if the State Department can come with the right word in Mandarin for 'reset' or more likely 'keep buying our bonds, please'.

UPDATE: This is apparently only the most recent in a series of incidents at sea between Chinese vessels and US intelligence ships.

US responds with low level public protest.

That strikes me as about right. This kind of crap is just a bit of ritual harassment. You can't react to everything by going right to Eleventy!!!1!11!! There are bigger fish to fry in the China-US relationship (economics and Taiwan to name but two) and you can't hold the big issues hostage to this crap. You can say you have to hold the line everywhere or they will take more but you can also argue they simply want to see if they can rattle Team Obama and get under their skin. Better not to give them the satisfaction on the first round and see if they back away or ratchet it up, then adjust our response accordingly.

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posted by DrewM. at 11:32 AM

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