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South China Sea – A mishap waiting to happen

Day before a  Chinese Luyang class destroyer chased away USS Decatur from what Chinese claim as their sovereign waters by maneuvering within 45 yards of the US vessel.  Its another matter that the Chinese destroyer with a single 100 mm gun was out classed by USS Decatur which could have had been carrying over 90 Tomahawk missiles in addition to its harpoon missiles and 127 MM guns.

The close encounter with the Chinese warship occurred as the American destroyer was carrying out a freedom of navigation operation (FONOPs) in the Spratlys, the U.S. said.

According to another U.S. official, the Chinese warship was initially about 500 yards on the Decatur’s port side then moved ahead of the Decatur and cut across the American destroyer’s bow at a distance of 45 yards (135 feet).

While Chinese may believe its a moment of glory, and their press seem to think so, the fact that a more capable adversary backed off only shows maturity and not weakness. China’s illegal claim of the entire South China Sea is unprecedented and without a sustainable rationale. Its belief that it can do so by its newly found muscle is devoid of any Confucian wisdom.

While the captain of Decatur may have decided to withdraw, it is not a moment that the Seventh fleet will be proud of. The Chinese should be worried what if the next american Ship were to follow its defensive protocols once the safe navigation perimeters are breached. Who will mourn the death of PRC Navy personal and most importantly what can China do if gloves are off?

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