Five reasons why INCSEA agreements with China would be a bad idea
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In short, although an INCSEA agreement could, in theory, reduce the possibility of miscalculation during un-alerted sea encounters between U.S. and Chinese naval and air forces, there are many reasons that the United States should not pursue such an arrangement. First, unlike the Soviet Navy, the PLA Navy is not a "blue water" navy with global reach and responsibilities. Elevating the PLA Navy to such a stature would not be in the best interests of the United States. Second, the United States and the Soviet Union shared a common interest in freedom of navigation and access to the world's oceans. U.S. and Chinese interpretations of the law of the sea are diametrically opposed and cannot be reconciled. Third, INCSEA is a navy-to-navy agreement. However, the bulk of PRC harassment and aggressive behavior against U.S. ships is conducted by PRC non-military law enforcement agencies and civilian proxies (e.g., small cargo ships and fishing trawlers). An INCSEA agreement would not apply to these vessels and aircraft. Fourth, INCSEA is a Cold War instrument. Defining the U.S.-China relationship in such terms would be counter-productive for both nations. Fifth, based on its activities in the near seas over the past several decades, China can hardly be characterized as a responsible state actor. Its actions in the South China Sea, in particular, are inconsistent with the spirit and intent of INCSEA and reflect a series of broken promises, intimidation, and aggressive behavior towards its neighbors. Finally, unlike 1972, the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea (COLREGS) and other international and regional arrangements provide internationally recognized and accepted measures that can be used to prevent incidents at sea." New measures are unnecessary.