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Retired Chinese colonel highlights irony of US 'freedom of navigation' claims in South China Sea

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Retired Chinese colonel highlights irony of US 'freedom of navigation' claims in South China Sea

2024-05-19 22:46 Last Updated At:23:57

A Chinese military expert has highlighted the United States' self-contradiction when it comes to its 'freedom of navigation' claims on the South China Sea, accusing the U.S. of hypocrisy in pushing a law it hasn't even ratified in part of its attempts to challenge others.

In an interview with the China Global Television Network (CGTN), Zhou Bo, a research fellow at the Center for International Security and Strategy (CISS) of Tsinghua University and also a retired senior colonel, noted the irony of how the U.S. is not even a party to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) yet frequently seeks to challenge others in the name of the law.

"This is very much ironic because both China and the United States agree to this concept of freedom of navigation and over flight, which is a basic concept in international maritime law. But then, we disagree on many other aspects of this concept. For example, who can conduct freedom of navigation operations? Is that just the military ships or any other ships? All these issues are not specified in the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. So the Americans would argue, ‘you see, it has not specified that military aircraft and ships should be excluded'. Well, China says that even if these are included, [just] look at other articles. For example, in doing so, these countries performing these kinds of operations must show due regard to the rights and interests of littoral states," said Zhou.

"The United States has not ratified the UN Convention on the Law of Sea. Therefore, my question for them is very simple. If the law is so good, why don't you ratify it like China, like other countries? And if it is not so good, then why would you challenge others in the name of the law?" he said.

Zhou pointed out that how U.S. carries out frequent reconnaissance missions under the pretext of the freedom of navigation principle, which are ultimately dangerous and detrimental to China's interests.

"There could be collisions, it's just as simple as that because this is exactly what happened in the past. We've come to talk about Americans close-in reconnaissance and surveillance, there are more than a few thousand times in a year. How can a few thousand times be considered due regard to the rights and interests of littoral states. They are [in] total disregard," he said.

Zhou also highlighted how China places emphasis on the combined concept of 'an quan' - meaning both 'security' and 'safety' - which stands in contrast to the U.S., which presses ahead with its own operations while handing out safety warnings to others.

"Chinese would talk about security because China would believe that this kind of close-in reconnaissance and surveillance by American aircraft and ships are fundamentally detrimental to China's interests. Therefore, you are infringing upon China's security. But the United States would believe that they are totally entitled to do all these kind of freedom of navigation operations or reconnaissance or surveillance. And so, they warned China against creating situations that would not become safe for the sailors or air crews or ships and aircraft," said the expert.

Zhou also raised concerns that American and Chinese aircraft and ships are at risk of colliding in the future as long as the U.S. insists on sending its craft and vessels into the South China Sea.

"The biggest danger is American and Chinese aircraft or ships collide with one another. Let me make it clear, neither side wants this to happen, but still this might happen because Americans keep sending in aircraft and ships to come. Then the question is very simple, if you do not want the water to boil, why would you throw the wood into the fire? Anyway, it is near China's doorstep. Yes, [China] sometimes sends ships to sail elsewhere, including in the waters near Hawaii, but that is in line with the international law. We sail through there, but we would not [come] chanting 'freedom of navigation', that I came here just to challenge you," said Zhou.

Retired Chinese colonel highlights irony of US 'freedom of navigation' claims in South China Sea

Retired Chinese colonel highlights irony of US 'freedom of navigation' claims in South China Sea

今天,完成月球背面采样的嫦娥六号顺利返回地球。多国专家高度评价嫦娥六号此次的探月任务,盛赞嫦娥六号实现了重大科学突破,取得了了不起的成就。

International experts have hailed the historical significance of China's successful Chang'e-6 mission and say the samples obtained from the far side of the moon can be deemed as a major scientific breakthrough for all of mankind.

The Chang'e-6 mission concluded its 53-day journey on Tuesday, becoming the first spacecraft to successfully retrieve and return precious samples from the mysterious 'dark' side of the moon, paving the way for scientists to uncover secrets about our celestial neighbor.

The return capsule safely touched down at the designated landing site in the Siziwang Banner of north China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region shortly after 14:00 local time on Tuesday afternoon, with the China National Space Administration (CNSA) declaring the mission a complete success, marking another remarkable achievement in China's space exploration endeavors.

Kirill Babaev, director of the Institute of China and Contemporary Asia of the Russian Academy of Sciences, said the probe's return is very good news for the entire international community, who will now be eager to study the samples in detail.

"It's the first time in the history of mankind that some kind of vehicle has landed on the other side of the moon and gets back [to Earth with samples]. It will bring us more material to study the moon. It's definitely a very good breakthrough for the Chinese [space] industry and for the world development of space studies. I'm very much interested in seeing what kind of product will be brought to the Earth from the moon," said Babaev.

The momentous Chang'e-6 mission was considered one of the most complex and challenging undertakings in China's space exploration efforts to date, as the country attempted to complete a feat never dared before.

After launching from the tropical southern island province of Hainan on May 3, the mission's pivotal stage came almost one month later when the probe's lander-ascent combination successfully touched down in the South Pole-Aitken Basin on June 2 to begin two-days of sampling work on the lunar surface. The rest of the mission went smoothly as the precious cargo was later transferred aboard the returner, which made it back safely on Tuesday.

Experts have hailed the historic nature of completing such an operation on the mysterious far side of the moon, with China being the only country to have previously made a soft landing there back in 2019 and now achieving the first ever sample collection.

"The most significant thing about this mission is the fact that it's the first time we are bringing back samples from the far side of the moon. Firstly, it is a very challenging part of the moon, to even land on in the first place, because the surface is not very friendly to land a probe there. It's the least explored side of the moon, so being able to know its composition could have a lot of significance," said Charles Mpho Takalana, head of secretariat of the African Astronomical Society.

"The landing of Chang'e-6 on the far side of the moon is of great significance. Obtaining materials from the far side of the moon will give us a broader perspective on the study of the origin of the moon, especially because the samples were collected by Chang'e-6 from the South Pole-Aitken Basin. China's space program is making great progress and achievements, and the success of Chang'e-6 is the best proof of this," said Jorge Soliz, a Bolivian aerospace expert.

Historical lunar sample return hailed as major breakthrough for global science community

Historical lunar sample return hailed as major breakthrough for global science community

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