Aug. 30 (China Military News cited from koreatimes.co.kr and written by Ralph A. Cossa) — Would someone please provide the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) spokesman with a map! Over the last few months, since it was rumored, then denied, and then confirmed that the George Washington aircraft carrier would be involved in naval “show of force” maneuvers off the west coast of South Korea, PLA interlocutors have been proclaiming they “resolutely oppose any foreign military vessel and aircraft conducting activities in the Yellow Sea and China’s coastal waters that undermine China’s security interests.”
China’s coastal waters? While the George Washington’s Yellow Sea area of operations has not yet been delineated, one assumes that it will operate in or adjacent to South Korean waters, somewhere in the general vicinity of the sinking of the ROK Navy’s frigate Cheonan by a North Korean torpedo.
PLA Navy Fleet
This will place it about 120 miles (195 kilometers) away from the closest Chinese landmass on the Shandong Peninsula and 175 miles (280 kilometers) from the closest city of any significance, Dalian. And this undermines China’s security interests how?
These facts of geography notwithstanding, we now have PLA commentators warning of a possible “collision” between the U.S./ROK and PRC Navy ships, while another threatens “If someone harms me, I must harm them.” Since when is operating in or near South Korean coastal waters ― the Yellow Sea touches the North and South Korean as well as the Chinese coast ― threaten China or do it harm?
Does the PLA now claim the ROK port of Incheon as part of its coastal waters? Do the U.S. (or ROK) ships have to get Chinese permission to sail in international waters significantly closer to the Korean mainland than to China? This is, of course, preposterous on the face of it.
The great irony is that it appears the U.S. initially had no plans of sending the George Washington into the Yellow Sea. In fact, Washington and Seoul were hoping that no major show of force would have been necessary at all, which is why they postponed plans for their naval maneuvers in lieu of first taking North Korea to the United Nations Security Council, the “responsible” way to send a message.