Common China Policy Myths
Myth #1: China
has helped the U.S. in the war on terrorism.
Assessing the course of the U.S.-China
relationship as the war on terrorism enters its third year, it may
be instructive to examine how China has or has not cooperated in
meeting the challenge of global terrorism.
September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the U.S. stunned China,
and on September 12, the Chinese president conveyed his deepest
sympathies to President Bush. Soon afterward, however, China hedged
its support for the brewing war on terrorism with immediate words
of caution that American military action should "respect the United
Nations' charter and norms of international law." China also
incongruously linked "terrorism" with what
Beijing characterized as Taiwan's "splittism" and called for
"reliable evidence" before it would countenance American military
strikes against Afghanistan.
the beginning, China lobbied U.N. Security Council members to put
the brakes on American action. In a telephone conversation on
Sep-tember 18, Chinese President Jiang Zemin told British Prime
Minister Tony Blair that U.N. approval and "irrefutable evidence"
were needed for China to back armed retaliation for the attacks on
the U.S. In a similar call to French President Jacques Chirac
before Chirac's trip to Washington, Jiang cautioned that "under
current circumstances, keeping sober-minded is especially needed,
and prudence should be exercised in handling relevant issues."
Jiang's message to Russian President Vladimir Putin was the same.
After September 11, the official People's
Daily Web site reportedly posted an article declaring that the
United States brought the tragedy upon itself because of its
journalists visiting the U.S. at the time of the terrorist attacks
were reportedly expelled after cheering the news--a charge that a
State Department spokesman pointedly refrained from denying.
the immediate post-attack period, the U.S. hoped for Chinese
assistance in "the financial area" (to freeze terrorist assets and
funding) and in "rescue efforts" (possibly including permission for
damaged U.S. aircraft to land at Chinese airports), two areas in
which then Chinese Foreign Minister Tang Jiaxuan indicated on
September 22 that China was willing to cooperate. While China's
state-owned financial institutions may not have been prime conduits
for terrorist money, Beijing governs Hong Kong's foreign affairs,
and a nod from Beijing was surely necessary before Hong Kong's
government and banks could cooperate fully and transparently with
U.S. counterparts. This was one of China's few useful contributions
to the war effort.
Other Chinese gestures of assistance,
however, failed to produce results. For example, a U.S.-China
"expert group" met in Washington on September 25, 2001, for
"wide-ranging talks" on cooperation in the global anti-terrorism
effort. While the State Department characterized these talks as
"serious and productive" because they "successfully identified
areas of common interest," there was little indication that the
group managed to agree on anything other than the general statement
that fighting terrorism is a good thing.
analysts have claimed that China encouraged Pakistan to cooperate
with the United States in the first months after September 11. The
opposite is true. Vice Foreign Minister Wang Yi, China's top Asia
specialist, was dispatched to Islamabad on September 22 but was
unable to reach any consensus with the Pakistanis other than the
vaguely worded statement, "it can be said that China and Pakistan's
position on the fight against terrorism are in accord with each
strange lack of a joint statement following such an important
diplomatic move suggested that the vice minister's real purpose in
Islamabad was to reassure Pakistan of its support against American
troop movements that same day down the Karakoram highway toward the
mountainous areas around the Pakistani and Afghan borders were
obviously designed not to prevent Afghan intruders--the mountains
separating China and Afghanistan are over 20,000 feet high and were
controlled by anti-Taliban forces--but instead to reassure Pakistan
of the proximity of Chinese forces.
Beijing's diplomatic coolness toward U.S.
plans to strike terrorist bases in Afghanistan was grounded in
fears of greater U.S. involvement in Central Asia, a region that it
saw as being within its own sphere of influence. Heralding a split
in the Chinese leadership on the nature of China's anti-terrorism
cooperation with the U.S., the Liberation Army Daily quoted Chief
of General Staff Fu Quanyou as warning the U.S. against using the
war on terrorism to dominate global affairs: "counter-terrorism
should not be used to practice hegemony."
February 2003, a prominent Chinese scholar wrote in one of China's
most respected foreign affairs periodicals that "the United States
uses the fight against terrorism as an opportunity to pursue its
hegemonic strategy and hegemonism is carried out under the cover of
antiterrorism." Moreover, he blamed American "hegemonism" on the
incumbent Administration, noting that "the pursuers of hegemonism
are just some of the people in power in the United States." For
this reason, he explained, "tactically, China cannot be without any
reservations when cooperating with the United States in combating
assessment explains why China's post-9/11 Middle Eastern and
Central Asian diplomacy was not helpful in the war on terrorism
either operationally or diplomatically. In April 2002, for example,
Chinese President Jiang Zemin visited Libya and Iran to stress his
country's strong ties with those nations--just before Vice
President Hu Jintao visited Washington. According to the Iranian
press, "Jiang has now sent a clear message to the American
administration that he will not abide by U.S. rules and that he is
determined to pursue an independent foreign policy." By the time
Jiang left Tehran, the Iranians believed that "Iran and China have
at their disposal all necessary potentials to turn into two
strategic partners in the region" and were confident that "the
Chinese will surely stay with us 'til the end."
Additionally, the week after Vice
President Hu's visit to Washington, China pressured its Central
Asian "allies," Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, to back away from their
support of the U.S.
Under pressure from Beijing, the Kazakhs scaled back offers of
airspace and bases to American forces while the Kyrgyz did not.
U.S.-China anti-terrorism cooperation has
been a one-way street. FBI agents are said to have trained their
Chinese counterparts in the intelligence exploitation of terrorist
archives, yet there is little indication that China has made any
substantive contribution to anti-terrorist intelligence. In April
2002, Admiral Dennis Blair, the U.S. commander in the Pacific, told
reporters that, "with other governments that we're operating with
more closely, like the Philippines or Singapore and Malaysia, it's
very detailed, tactical information of the type you need to take
action," adding that "I think we need to get to that level with
Beijing, and it's not quite there yet."
February 2003, State Department coordinator for counter-terrorism
J. Cofer Black led a U.S. delegation to Beijing for the third
session of U.S.-China anti-terrorism consultations and the second
consultation of the Sino-U.S. Financial Counter-Terrorism Working
Group. While the
State Department was polite about China's stance in the war on
terrorism, the most Black could say about China's cooperation was
that "we are very pleased with our cooperation" and "we think it
has great potential"--a full 18 months after 9/11.
in all, China's diplomatic support in the war on terrorism has been
marginal at best. The most that could be said is that China voted
in support of both U.N. Security Council resolutions after the
September 11 attacks, though it could hardly have avoided doing
so. In August 2003,
China also committed to join the Container Security Initiative
(CSI), which permits U.S. Customs officials to pre-screen cargo
containers bound for the United States. But China had no choice:
Two-thirds of all containers headed to the United States come from
China, and the alternative to Chinese CSI participation was delays
of Chinese ships entering U.S. ports.
addition, contrary to media reports, China has provided relatively
little support in rebuilding Afghanistan, and virtually none
through the United Nations. Meanwhile, the Chinese used
"terrorism" as an excuse to jail and in some cases execute Uighurs
(a Turkic ethnic group) in western China who oppose the progressive
Sinicization of their traditional homeland.
Myth #2: China
"stood aside" in the Iraq War.
mid-2002, China appeared to be supportive of U.S. efforts to get
Iraq to accede to reconstituted United Nations inspections for
weapons of mass destruction. In late August 2002, during a visit by
Iraqi Foreign Minister Naji Sabri to Beijing, the Chinese extolled
their long friendship with Iraq, but also warned that Iraq must
"strictly implement U.N. Security Council resolutions" in order to
avoid "the emergence of a new complexity with the Iraq issue." Reading between the
lines, Beijing told Baghdad that Iraq had brought its problems on
itself and that, while China did not "approve" of the use of force,
it would not oppose a Security Council resolution authorizing such
September 24, the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman signaled
that Beijing was "ready to study" American and British "proposals"
that may be raised in the Security Council. On October 25, President Jiang Zemin
privately notified President Bush that China would not obstruct
U.S. military action against Iraq, and by November 8, China (like Syria)
had voted for Resolution 1441 in the Security Council.
January 2003, however, China saw that two other permanent members
of the Security Council were ready to block a U.S. attempt to gain
U.N. approval for military action, and Beijing's diplomats
discreetly lined up against Washington.
February 4, Powell met with his Chinese counterpart, Foreign
Minister Tang Jiaxuan, in New York to brief Tang on Iraq. The next
day, Tang privately reassured Powell that "as Chinese President
Jiang Zemin had reassured U.S. President George W. Bush last
October at the Bush ranch in Crawford, Texas, China would `stand
aside' on the Iraq issue at the U.N." Minister Tang also told
French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin that China supported
France's "strong and principled stance" calling for "more time"
before approving the use of force against Iraq. Rather than "stand
aside," China instead lent rhetorical support to France and Russia,
who both indicated that they would veto any use-of-force
the end, the U.S. and its allies went ahead with the military
invasion of Iraq without a new and explicit Security Council
authorization, and China condemned the action in its public media
as "nothing short of a war crime."
Although China has acquiesced in the
U.S.-led occupation of Iraq, it remains committed to placing Iraq
under U.N. authority and steadfastly opposes U.S. efforts to enlist
U.N. assistance under U.S. leadership. In a speech to the U.N.
General Assembly on September 24, 2003, Tang continued to snipe at
the U.S. position in Iraq.
late as October 2003, China joined Russia, Germany, and France in
pressing the United States to commit to a timetable for withdrawing
from Iraq at the earliest possible time, turn administration of
Iraq over to the U.N., and give the U.N. oversight of Iraq's
financial reconstruction. China insists that the United States turn
all sovereignty over to Iraq and make arrangements for a new
constitution--uninfluenced by the United States--at a later date.
Myth #3: China
has helped in the North Korean nuclear crisis.
early as 1999, Richard Armitage (now Deputy Secretary of State)
wrote a report for the National Defense University in which he
observed that China had not been particularly helpful to the U.S.
in the North Korean nuclear crisis. Specifically:
China has resisted active
cooperation--with the Korean Peninsula Energy De-velopment
Organization, with the World Food Program, and on missiles. Its
inde-pendent actions pose a challenge to any successful U.S.
Armitage recognized that China had its own
distinct agenda separate from the American effort to coax North
Korea (DPRK) to abandon its nuclear weapons efforts.
late 2003, it is painfully clear that Beijing is not on
Washington's side, or even neutral, in the North Korean debate.
Initially, Washington apparently calculated that enlisting Beijing
in the North Korean nuclear debate would cause Beijing to move
Pyongyang in the direction the U.S. wanted. Instead, Beijing has
expended virtually all its energies on getting the United States to
move in North Korea's direction.
North Korean "negotiators" continued their
threats to "demonstrate or transfer" nuclear weapons at the failed
U.S.-North Korean talks hosted by China in Beijing on April 23,
2003, and repeated their demands for a formal U.S.-DPRK treaty
guaranteeing the security of the Pyongyang regime, extensive
economic aid, a resumption of construction of a nuclear power
plant, and formal diplomatic recognition from Washington. In
addition, the North Koreans demanded that the U.S. use its
influence with Japan to deliver on Japanese economic aid and
diplomatic ties. But the North Korean representative did not
respond to U.S. insistence that North Korea dismantle its nuclear
weapons program "completely, verifiably, and irreversibly."
subsequent American effort to engage the North Koreans in a
six-party multilateral setting was also fruitless. To balance the
sides, the Chinese recruited Russia to join a multilateral forum,
which was finally held in Beijing on August 27, 2003, with China
and Russia supporting the DPRK and the U.S. backed by Japan and
South Korea. In those talks, the North Koreans continued their
vituperate threats and insults, saving the most pointed jibes for
the hapless Russian deputy foreign minister whom the North Korean
delegate referred to by name as a "liar" and a "lap dog" of the
Moreover, the North Koreans refused to budge from their insistence
on the right to develop and maintain a nuclear arsenal. The session
ended acrimoniously but was nonetheless painted as "a good
beginning" by the State Department.
Assistant Secretary of State James Kelly commented that at least
"it was possible for all who were there to hear what was said by
any"--that no longer would the world simply have to take Kelly's
word that North Korea's envoys behaved abominably. One State
Department official said privately that American's biggest "trump
card is Kim Jong Il," whose behavior, reflected in his diplomats,
is so irrational as to undermine hope that a peaceful resolution of
the nuclear crisis is even possible.
Russia's normally sympathetic Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander
Losyukov was heard to have shaken his head in dismay and mutter
"there go 55 years of history." The Russian remained noncommittal in
public and would only "suggest" in private "that the North Koreans
had not been listening to Mr. Kelly's presentation."
China, however, remains firmly in North
Korea's corner. The weekend after the talks, Chinese Vice Foreign
Minister Wang Yi declared that "the main problem we are facing" is
not North Korea's histrionics, but "the American policy towards
[the] DPRK." This after the vice minister was described by all
present at the six-party talks as "visibly angered" by the North
Korean delegates' outbursts.
Powell played down Wang's attack on the
U.S. position, saying that "neither I nor my staff, nor have
Chinese officials we have talked to in Beijing about the matter,
seen a full transcript...and I am quite sure the Vice Foreign
Minister was not resting the problem on the United States." Nonetheless, the view
that Wang's attack reflected Chinese policy was given credence by
another key State Department official who said, "normally, hearsay
evidence is inadmissible, but there is an exception for the
There were other signs of strain in
China's relationship with the DPRK. In mid-September, Vice Minister
Wang apparently confided to reporters that he would accompany
Chairman of the National People's Congress Wu Bangguo, the second
ranking member in the Chinese Communist Party hierarchy, to
Pyongyang in an attempt to nudge Kim Jung Il on the talks. But
intelligence sources in Washington say Kim postponed the visit for
several weeks and in the end conditioned the visit on additional
Chinese shipments of oil. Indeed, Wu's visit finally took place at
the end of October with promises of additional aid, and Wu returned
to Beijing with assurances that North Korea would return to the
conference table, provided Japan abjures any mention of its kidnap
kidnapping issue is of critical political importance to the
Japanese government, and one that North Korea wants marginalized.
When Pyongyang declared in September that it saw no use in further
talks, Beijing blamed Washington. When Pyongyang demanded that
Japan be dropped from the talks because of Tokyo's insistence on
including the issue of abductees, China lent support. China also
demarched the United States to cease mention of the Japanese
abductees at the six-party talks.
it was reported that China had turned responsibility for border
patrols on the Yalu River over to the People's Liberation Army.
News reports indicated that the People's Armed Police, which had
previously patrolled the border, was just too corrupt to be
trusted, but intelligence reporting indicates that the Chinese
military is working more easily with DPRK troops in repatriating
refugees. One official in Washington says replacing the police with
the army may be more a signal to the United States not to get
involved in the North Korean refugee issue than a signal to North
Korea that it is truly worried--finally--about a major refugee
Whatever China's motives, it still acts as
the DPRK's enabler. No public complaint, no exasperation, no hint
of impatience with Pyongyang comes from Beijing. China is North
Korea's fuel and food supplier of last resort. In 1998, for
example, the DPRK imported only 609,000 tons of crude oil, of which
83 percent came from China. The U.S. Department of State cites
numbers of some $500 million per year in Chinese food aid to North
the other hand, the Chinese harangue the Americans for being
obstructionists in these talks. One Chinese official told reporters
that the Chinese government had "some concern...that the Bush
Administration's position had hardened to the point where
compromise might be extremely difficult." That official pointed to
the resignation of the Administration's special envoy for
negotiations with North Korea, "who had advocated a somewhat more
conciliatory approach than the one now popular with the White
the U.S. negotiating team prepares for a second round of six-party
talks in Beijing in the coming year, they should expect further
pressure from the Chinese government to accede to North Korean
demands. They can be assured, however, that China will not pressure
North Korea for movement on "complete, verifiable, and
irreversible" dismantling of its nuclear program.
During Premier Wen's early December visit
in Washington, the North Koreans again demanded that, before North
Korea takes any action, the "United States must remove our
country's name from the list of terrorism sponsoring countries;
lift its political, economic, military sanctions and blockade; and
give us heavy oil, electricity and other energy assistance from the
United States and neighboring countries." Key Administration arms control
officials remain convinced that Beijing and Pyongyang developed
this position jointly and hoped to ram it through the U.S.
bureaucracy during the Wen visit, but were unsuccessful. They say
that, in the several weeks before the Wen visit, China "stepped up
deliveries to North Korea of fuel oil and food" to the DPRK and
that, "as an added incentive, Beijing shipped an entire glass
factory to North Korea."
Myth #4: China
has slowed its support of WMD proliferation.
March 2002, Director of Central Intelligence George Tenet reported
that Chinese activities not only "continue to be inimical not just
to our interests, but [also] stimulate secondary activities that
only complicate the threat that we face, our forces face and our
allies face, particularly in the Middle East," and added that "in
some instances these activities are condoned by the government." In fact, the CIA
reported in January 2002 that China provided "extensive support" to
Pakistan's nuclear programs in the past and that, even as late as
the first half of 2001, "continued contacts" between Chinese
entities and Pakistani nuclear weapons developers could not be
ruled out, despite China's 1996 promise to stop assistance to
unsafeguarded nuclear facilities.
Administration's frustration with China was explained by Assistant
Secretary of State Paula De-Sutter in July 2003: "At the highest
levels, the Chinese government has claimed that it opposes missile
proliferation...[U]nfortunately, the reality has been quite
different." DeSutter went on to document 15 years of China's broken
promises, mendacity, and prevarications on missile, nuclear, and
chemical weapons proliferation issues.
CIA's January 2002 report also documented that Chinese firms had
"provided significant assistance" to Pakistan's ballistic missile
programs, including serial production of solid-fuel short-range
ballistic missiles (SRBM), and noted that there were "some
interactions" in early 2001 between Chinese and Iranian missile and
nuclear weapons development entities.
June 2002, the White House reported to Congress on weapons
proliferation. It revealed that Chinese, North Korean, and Russian
companies "have continued to supply Iran with a wide variety of
missile-related goods, technology, and expertise." In May 2002, the U.S.
sanctioned eight Chinese entities for selling missile-related
equipment and other unspecified WMD-related materials to Iran. The
unspecified materials apparently were components for Iran's
anti-ship cruise missile program.
China's missile proliferation to Iran
continued unabated through 2002, resulting in further U.S.
sanctions against Chinese firms on July 9 for "knowingly and
materially" contributing to the proliferation of destabilizing
numbers and types of cruise missiles in Iran. Nor was Chinese
proliferation to Iran limited to missiles. On both January 16 and
July 9, the Administration sanctioned several Chinese firms for
transfers of anti-corrosive glass-lined equipment to make chemical
weapons and for other chemical weapons-related sales to Iran.
China also has a long history of aiding
North Korea's missile program. Intelligence has recently revealed
that China sold specialty steel and missile-related accelerometers,
gyroscopes, and precision grinding machinery to the DPRK for its
Moreover, China has worked with Pyongyang
on its space program, which is closely associated with its
military. The CIA's January 2002 report noted that North Korea
acquired Chinese missile components in the first half of 2001 and
apparently resold those items to Iran, Syria, Pakistan, Egypt, and
October 4, 2002, during talks with American diplomats, North Korea
surprisingly acknowledged its secret program to enrich uranium to
develop nuclear weapons, a flagrant violation of the commitments
made by the DPRK in the 1994 Agreed Framework to cease its nuclear
program. American intelligence learned that the North Korean
uranium technology and equipment was transferred from Pakistan,
which air-shipped the cargo via Chinese military bases, probably
well into 2002.
Libya is another worrisome customer of
Chinese missile technology. Defense intelligence learned in
December 1999 that China intended to build Libya a hypersonic wind
tunnel for its "Al Fatah" SRBM program and was training Libyan
missile experts at the Beijing University of Aeronautics and
Astronautics. China also provided Libya with navigational and
guidance systems, which the CIA's January 2002 report said were
"critical" to Libya's ballistic missile programs.
of May 2003, China was still selling missile components and
technology to Iran. The United States responded by placing economic
sanctions on China North Industries Corporation (NORINCO), one of
China's largest arms manufacturers, which directly halted over $100
million in Chinese exports to the United States.
July 3, 2003, the Bush Administration im-posed economic sanctions
on five other Chinese firms for assisting Iran's weapons programs.
As the New York Times noted, "it did so even as American officials
were meeting with a senior Chinese diplomat, trying to coax Beijing
into forcing North Korea to dismantle its nuclear program."
Again, on July 30, the State Department
an-nounced further sanctions on Chinese firms for aiding Iraq's
nuclear weapons program. The State Department spokesman explained,
"we think it's the responsibility of the Chinese Government to
impose the kind of controls and regulations to ensure that it stops
this kind of activity that it's proliferating."
reports said that the State Department had levied additional
sanctions on Chinese firms as of September 18. The CIA's most recent public
assessment of China's proliferation behavior says that "Chinese
entities remain key suppliers of WMD and missile-related
technologies to countries of concern" and adds that the evidence
"during the current reporting period continues to show that Chinese
firms still provide dual-use CW [chemical weapons]-related
production equipment and technology to Iran."
Beijing's support for North Korea also
apparently includes nuclear weapons assistance. In October 2002,
the New York Times, Washington Post, Washington Times, and Wall
Street Journal published separate articles alleging that China was,
directly or indirectly, complicit in the transfer of Pakistani
uranium-enrichment technology to North Korea.
fact, China has been North Korea's nuclear enabler for over a
decade. Even into 2003, Beijing has continued to supply North
Korean laboratories with chemicals needed to separate plutonium
from spent fuel.
The Chinese government also continues to permit North Korean
aircraft to overfly Chinese airspace to deliver dangerous missile,
nuclear, and chemical contraband to Iran and elsewhere.
Maritime tensions are easing.
the past half-century, American naval vessels and surveillance
aircraft, in innocent passage, have patrolled international waters
and airspace in the Western Pacific. In recent years, Chinese
forces have harassed these U.S. craft. In late 1994, the USS Kitty
Hawk carrier battle group twice encountered Chinese submarines, and
subsequently fighter aircraft, in international waters in the
Yellow Sea, but China resisted U.S. requests to develop rules of
engagement or an "incident at sea" agreement until late 1997 after
the first Jiang-Clinton summit.
when a U.S.-China Military Maritime Consultative Agreement (MMCA)
was finalized in 1998, the Chinese continued to ignore it.
- In April 2001, a Chinese warplane struck
an American reconnaissance aircraft flying in international
airspace, and China refused all American attempts to open a channel
of com-munication as called for in the MMCA.
- In the summer of 2001, and again in late
2002, Chinese ships and aircraft harassed the USNS Bowditch and the
USNS Sumner, two American naval oceanographic ships, in
- Well into 2003, Chinese fighter jets
continued to harass American reconnaissance aircraft, in at least
one case coming within 90 meters.
- In June 2003, Chinese jets shadowed a
Japanese antisubmarine warfare plane over international waters.
behavior undoubtedly reflects a new Chinese policy of assertiveness
in the international waters of the Western Pacific. In February,
Xinhua news agency reported that China would "expand its maritime
surveillance and control rights from 50 nautical miles (nm) to 100
nm by the year 2010 and further expand its jurisdiction to the
entire 200 nm Exclusive Economic Zone by the year 2020." It is clear that,
despite its accession to the United Nations Convention on Law of
the Sea (UNCLOS), China considers the 200 nm exclusive economic
zone (EEZ), rather than waters within 12 nm of shore, as
the passage of China's first national "administrative regulation on
uninhabited islands" on July 1, 2003, China served notice that it
intended to be more aggressive in asserting its claims to landforms
and reefs in the South China Sea. The headquarters of the General
Staff of the People's Liberation Army announced the regulations on
June 17, along with the warning that "China's island administration
had, for a long time, been relatively weak, and disorderly
exploitation of uninhabited islands" had "posed a threat to
national defense and military security." In other words, the fact
that China had not asserted its claims in the past should not be
taken as precedent.
earlier, in January 2003, American press reports said that China
had adopted new statutes prohibiting foreign military "survey and
mapping" operations in the EEZ. In response, an American official
was quoted as saying, "we have continued to maintain over the years
that our military surveys are a high-seas freedom and are not
subject to restrictions placed within any EEZ." Although the U.S. has not ratified the
1982 UNCLOS, it does consider military and non-commercial
state-owned ships immune from foreign jurisdiction (as per UNCLOS,
Articles 58 and 59) and considers all surveillance and survey
activities for non-commercial purposes to be legitimate outside
foreign territorial waters; i.e., beyond the 12 nm limit.
in January 2003, Beijing's Zhongguo Qingnian Bao (China Youth News)
reported that China's Maritime Patrol Service had "effectively
incursions into Chinese "territorial seas" by American and Japanese
ships and aircraft and specifically charged the USNS Bowditch and
USNS Sumner with engaging in unauthorized military mapping
July 1, 2003, the headquarters of the General Staff Department of
the People's Liberation Army, together with the State Oceanic
Administration (SOA), issued new regulations protecting uninhabited
islands around the base points of China's territorial waters. This
includes all of the disputed islands and reefs in the South China
Sea and prohibits activities that might damage these islands. The
regulations require all "organizations and individuals" to apply
for approval if they want to use the islands. The Chinese were swift to begin
enforcement of the rules.
July 11, Chinese patrol ships seized five Taiwanese fishing boats
that were operating in the open sea more than 129 km from the
southeast coast of China. The Chinese accused the Taiwanese boats
of infringing on China's economic exclusion zone. Although the
Taiwanese ships were operating far from China's coast, China claims
a 200 nautical mile economic exclusion zone, which covers the
entire Taiwan Strait.
There may not be a way to bridge the gap
between China's demands that American military and non-commercial
government vessels first gain Chinese authorization to conduct
maritime surveillance in waters within 200 nm of Chinese landfall
under Articles 246 and 248 of the UNCLOS and the U.S. demands for
"freedom of access" on the high seas. But given the Chinese government's
extensive territorial claims in the South China sea, in the Ryukyu
chain, and on Taiwan, China's actions promise friction not only
with the U.S. in the coming years, but also with all other nations
in the Asia-Pacific region with overlapping maritime claims.