Overview of the US-China impeccable incident
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This study attempts to fill this gap by uncovering why China’s coercive diplomacy took the form it did in the case of the March 2009 Impeccable incident in which five Chinese vessels shadowed and aggressively maneuvered in close proximity to the US Naval Ship (USNS) Impeccable in contravention to accepted naval practice.5 At the time of the encounter, the Impeccable was approximately 75 nautical miles southeast of the Chinese Sanya Naval Base, in the international waters of the South China Sea, but inside China’s claimed Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).6 Chinese leaders most likely believed that the Impeccable was gathering underwater acoustical data that could help track Chinese submarines located nearby and opposed such surveil- lance activities.7 Two of the five ships involved, Chinese-flagged fishing trawlers, came within 50 feet of the US ship and the crew attempted to snag the ship’s towed acoustic array sonar. After hours of confrontation, the Impeccable was eventually able to leave the area and an American destroyer, the USS Chung-Hoon, was sent to provide additional protection. Though the Chinese government publicly denied any role in organizing the actions of the Chinese vessels, the fact that the Chinese ships involved included a navy intelligence collection ship, a Bureau of Maritime Fisheries patrol vessel, and a State Oceanographic Administration patrol vessel, calls this into question.9 Furthermore, the fact that the Chinese sailors knew what the towed array sonar looked like as well as its purpose suggests instruction.
"Signaling and Military Provocation in Chinese National Security Strategy: A Closer Look at the Impeccable Incident
." The Journal of Strategic Studies
. Vol. 34, No. 2 (April 2011): 219-244. [ More (4 quotes) ]