01 August 2014

PRC National Defense Ministry Spokesman Sr. Col. Geng Yansheng Offers China’s Most-Detailed Position to Date on Dongdiao-class Ship’s Intelligence Collection in U.S. EEZ during RIMPAC Exercise

Summary translation: China demands freedom from the United States to collect intelligence in U.S. Exclusive Economic Zones in the name of U.S. principles and domestic laws. China denies the United States reciprocal freedoms in the name of Chinas own domestic laws.

Such lack of reciprocity flies in the face of international legal principles and support for an equitable, well-functioning international system. However, Beijings emerging tool of choice to promote its interests in this and some other important areas is not international law, but rather high-level political rhetoric and relationship management.

Expect Chinese interlocutors to push the following argument: under the New-Type Great Power Relations concept that Presidents Xi and Obama endorsed at their Sunnylands Summit, and the New-Type Navy-to-Navy Relations concept that logically flows from this, the U.S. side should reduce surveillance and reconnaissance operations (SROs) in Chinas EEZ to ensure the mutual trust necessary for the future positive development of the relationship.

责任编辑: 李芬芬 [Dong Zhaohui, ed.], “国防部: 对社会各界给予军演的理解支持表示感谢” [The Ministry of National Defense: We Thank All Social Sectors for Their Understanding of and Support for Military Exercises], “2014年7月国防部例行记者会” [Defense Ministry’s Regular Press Conference, (31) July 2014], Official Transcript from Website of Ministry of National Defense, The People’s Republic of China, 31 July 2014.

Posting sequence: (1) quotations from English translation provided on PRC MND website; (2) followed by original Chinese version from Chinese-language MND website; (3) concluding with slightly differing, possibly smoother translation of original Chinese in brackets.

After the news conference, a journalist asked: “After the press conference, a journalist asked: the US navy disclosed that China sent a spy ship to collect intelligence in waters of the RIMPAC exercise. Commander of the U.S. PACCOM welcomed such actions because he thinks this is good news since China can no longer blame similiar intelligence collection activities of the US against China. What is your comment?”

会后有记者问:美国海军披露,中国派出一艘侦察船前往环太演习海域搜集情报,美太总部司令就此表示,欢迎中国侦察船的到来,他认为这是好消息,因为中国此后就不能阻隔美国对中国的侦察活动。请问中方对此如何评价?

[The U.S. Navy disclosed that China sent a reconnaissance ship to collect intelligence in waters of the RIMPAC exercise. Commander of the U.S. PACCOM welcomed the appearance of the Chinese reconnaissance ship and said he thinks this is good news because China can no longer obstruct similar U.S. reconnaissance activities on China. What comments does the Chinese side have on this?]

Senior Colonel Geng Yansheng, director of the Information Affairs Office and spokesman of the PRC Ministry of National Defense (发布人: 国防部新闻事务局局长、国防部新闻发言人耿雁生大校): “The Chinese navy ship is navigating outside of the US territorial water, which is in line with the international law and domestic law of the US. We hope the US respect the legitimate rights of the Chinese ship.”

新闻发言人表示:中国海军舰艇在美国领海以外海域航行,符合相关国际法和美国国内法的有关规定。中方希望美方尊重中方舰船依法享有的权利。

[The Chinese naval ship sailed outside of the U.S. territorial waters, and it abided by relevant international law and domestic law of the United States. The Chinese side hopes the United States respects the legitimate rights of the Chinese ship.]

“However, we need to point out that, for a long period of time, U.S. military aircraft and ships have been performing highly frequent reconnaissance activities in waters and air spaces administered by China.”

需要指出的是,长期以来,美军舰机到中国管辖海域及其上空进行高频度的侦察活动,这种作法严重影响中国国家安全,极易引发海空意外事件。

[What needs to be pointed out is that for a long period of time, the US military aircraft and ships have been conducting high intensity reconnaissance activities in waters and air spaces administered by China.]

“Such activities severely compromise China’s national security and can easily trigger accidents at sea and in the air. The activities of the Chinese navy ship, no matter in terms of scope, frequency, or pattern, can not be compared to the U.S. ship and aircraft’s high intensity close-in reconnaissance against China.”

而中国海军舰艇的活动,无论是范围,还是数量、方式,与美方舰机频繁对华抵近侦察是不同的。

[Such activities severely compromise China’s national security and may easily trigger accidents at sea and in the air. The activities of the Chinese navy ship, no matter whether in terms of scope, frequency, or pattern, are very different from the highly frequent and close-range reconnaissance missions conducted by U.S. ships and aircraft against China.]

Further information & analysis:

For the article cited here, see Andrew S. Erickson and Emily de La Bruyere, “China’s RIMPAC Maritime-Surveillance Gambit,” The National Interest, 29 July 2014.

Andrew S. Erickson and Emily de La Bruyere, “Crashing Its Own Party: China’s Unusual Decision to Spy on Joint Naval Exercises,” China Real Time Report (中国实时报), Wall Street Journal, 19 July 2014.

Andrew S. Erickson and Austin M. Strange, “China’s RIMPAC Debut: What’s in It for America?” The National Interest, 3 July 2014.

  • Brian227

    I seem to recall that the US ignored the PRC’s ADIZ on the basis that EEZs were not territorial waters and free to peaceful transit by any nation’s aircraft without hindrance.

    I think Washington need to decide if they want a cake/eating moment.