Wendell Minnick
Wendell Minnick

When a Chinese J-11 fighter challenged a US Navy P-8 Poseidon on Aug. 19 near Hainan Island, it triggered off a debate on the way the US performs its surveillance strategy, writes defense analyst Wendell Minnick in Defense News.

Wendell Minnick:

US analysts indicate that what China really objects to is America’s place in Asia. Put in these terms, China’s demand that the US cease close-in surveillance operations poses a stark choice: Pursue a cordial and more equal relationship with China vs. maintaining America’s dominant position in Asia. What China is telegraphing to the United States is that it cannot have it both ways. This gets to the heart of American primacy and its role in the world.

“Chinese leaders are seeking to expand their influence over their periphery by building up, establishing new terms of reference for what is allowed and normal, tranquilizing neighbors into accepting growing Chinese hegemony, and supplanting US power,” said Patrick Cronin, senior director of the Asia-Pacific Security Program, Center for a New American Security

US spy boats and aircraft have long been a source of intrigue and crisis in American military history and many have resulted in embarrassment or the deaths of US military personnel.

North Korea’s capture of the USS Pueblo in 1968, the Israeli attack on the USS Liberty in 1967, the Soviet shootdown of a CIA U-2 spy plane flown by Gary Powers in 1960, and the 2001 Hainan Island incident involving a US Navy EP-3 aircraft and a Chinese J-8 fighter, all serve as notice of the dangers of snooping too close.


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Wendell Minnick is a speaker at the China Speakers Bureau. Do you need him at your meeting or conference? Do get in touch or fill in our speakers´request form.

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