Friday, August 13, 2010

Slated U.S. Carrier Visit to Yellow Sea Irks China

Chinese government and state-run media outlets are angrily protesting the Pentagon's Aug. 5 announcement to send the aircraft carrier George Washington into the Yellow Sea (West Sea) in upcoming exercises with South Korea.

The exact date the aircraft carrier would enter the Yellow Sea was not released. The George Washington did not enter the Yellow Sea during exercises last month, supposedly after Chinese objections, but plans to do so in upcoming exercises have once again enraged Beijing.

China "won't stand for U.S. naval provocation," said Maj. Gen. Luo Yuan in an editorial published in the Aug. 9 edition of Global Times.

Foreign Ministry spokesperson Jiang Yu in an Aug. 9 statement to the press said, "we have expressed our clear and firm position on the ROK-U.S. joint military exercises to the relevant parties on several occasions. We urge the relevant parties to take China's position and concern seriously."

An Aug. 13 article on the state-run Xinhua news website warned the U.S. not to move the carrier into the Yellow Sea.

"Offending Chinese people is not in the fundamental interest of the U.S. Any activity aimed at pushing a country with a 1.3-billion populace with enormous potential would be inadvisable."

The recent joint naval exercises between the U.S. and South Korea are in response to the sinking of the South Korean corvette Cheonan by North Korea on March 26. China has denied allegations North Korea was behind the sinking, despite the discovery of the remains of a North Korean-built CHT-02D torpedo found at the scene.

Luo, deputy secretary-general of the People's Liberation Army Academy of Military Sciences, said the Pentagon decision was a "deliberate provocation" and the U.S. should "think twice about the maneuver."

"Imagine what the consequences will be if China's biggest debtor nation challenges its creditor nation," he said. Economic observers estimate China holds roughly $750 billion in U.S. debt.

Luo said China is the "world's largest market" and "offending China means losing, or at least decreasing market share."

This is not the first time Luo and other PLA officials have used the economic card to threaten the U.S. Luo, along with Maj. Gen. "Tiger" Zhu Chenghu, director-general, National Defense University, made similar public comments shortly after the U.S. released a $6 billion arms deal to Taiwan in January.

China discontinued military-to-military exchanges with the U.S. after the arms release to Taiwan. The U.S. is now considering the release of new F-16 fighter aircraft to replace Taiwan's aging F-5s, but China has called the release a "red line."

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