A Chinese naval vessel tried to force a U.S. guided missile warship to stop in international waters recently, causing a tense military standoff in the latest case of Chinese maritime harassment, according to defense officials.
The guided missile cruiser USS Cowpens, which recently took part in disaster relief operations in the Philippines, was confronted by Chinese warships in the South China Sea near Beijing’s new aircraft carrier Liaoning, according to officials familiar with the incident.
I can’t really bring myself to sympathize with the US government on stuff like this.
I remember my first ever letter to a president, written in the late 80s after US Navy ships attacked a Greenpeace flotilla in international waters because the US government wanted to, of all things, explode a nuclear weapon there. My recollection is that I recommended the captains and admirals involved be charged with piracy on the high seas and hanged. My further recollection is that Old Man Bush never replied.
I also remember that when Israeli pirates boarded the MV Mavi Marmara in international waters and murdered nine of its passengers, including one American, Washington mostly held its tongue.
And I remember that US Navy ships have, as a matter of policy, made a habit in recent decades of stopping and boarding any ship they like, anywhere they feel like it, for any reason they feel sufficient — it might be carrying drugs to the US, it might be carrying North Korean or Iranian weapons to Syria, whatever.
So the phrase that comes to mind is “turnabout is fair play.” It may be “international waters,” but there’s a reason the area is referred to as the South China sea, and presumably the Chinese Navy is as sensitive as the US Navy about foreign vessels approaching its aircraft carriers.