My recent article about a rare embark on the Chinese guided missile destroyer CNS Haikou during the recent Rim of Pacific (Rimpac) excercises prompted some rather strong comments.
I think this move -- sending the surveillance ship to eavesdrop on an exercise they were participating in -- sums up the Chinese in many ways, and is exactly the kind of behaviour the rest of the world should expect.
Perhaps, what the rest of the world should not have expected is the West giving rise to an entity that does not recognize or tolerate even the basic standards of human rights and democracy.
There will forever be an East v West ideological divide and the sooner the arrogant and naïve West recognize this the better prepared we'll be for the inevitable military showdown.
The Chinese are at Rimpac to demonstrate that they've returned to the world stage as a legitimate military superpower. They're also quite happy to show the media that their Type 052C/D destroyers have all the same basic warfighting capabilities as US Aegis warships.
This satisfies their need to demonstrate that they're near peers of the US Navy while serving a secondary warning to smaller nations that aligning with the US does not necessarily mean military superiority.
The arrival of the AGI 853 Dongdiao to spy on the Rimpac participants is the other behavior that has been demonstrated by the Chinese on many occasions; that is that existing international norms don't apply to China.
This is generated by a belief that the needs of China as the new emerging superpower trumps other "lesser" nations and that existing international agreements and norms either don't apply or can be bent to satisfy the goals of the Chinese now and in the future.
This has led to very dangerous conduct by China in its drive to lay claim to vast swaths of ocean which up to this point were seen as either international waters or the legitimate EEZ’s of regional nations in the contested areas.
While it’s important to focus on the participation of the Chinese in Rimpac there are other more serious actions occurring with important implications for future relations between China and the US.
Darth Vader's cousin Jim wrote:
Such naivety - is anyone here truly stupid enough to think that every nation is not gleaming data on all the other participants? Its just that China have been bright enough to follow through on the thought; "screw the diplomatic niceties, everyone knows everyone else is at it, so why compromise it by trying to hide it?"
[We'll not start on the hypocrisy of "Western" human rights records and dedication to democracy.]