The South China Sea is a powder keg, and one senior Chinese military officer seems interested in lighting the fuse even further.
Dai Xu, a People's Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) senior colonel and president of the Institute of Marine Safety and Cooperation, suggested last weekend that the Chinese navy use force to counter US freedom-of-navigation operations in the South China Sea, Taiwan News reported Sunday. He spoke at a conference hosted by the nationalist, state-backed Chinese tabloid Global Times.
"If the U.S. warships break into Chinese waters again, I suggest that two warships should be sent: one to stop it, and another one to ram it," he said. "In our territorial waters, we won't allow U.S. warships to create [a] disturbance."
Dai, famous for his hawkish rhetoric, argued that U.S. Navy freedom-of-navigation operations, or FONOPS, are provocations aimed at undermining China's sovereignty rather than an actual attempt to ensure freedom of navigation in international waters. The U.S. Navy regularly sails destroyers and cruisers past Chinese-occupied territories in the South China Sea, while U.S. Air Force bombers tear past on routine overflights that often ruffle Beijing's feathers.
The most recent FONOP occurred in late November when the U.S. Navy sent the Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Chancellorsville to challenge Chinese claims near the Paracel Islands.
In this May 24, 2014 photo, China's Harbin (112) guided missile destroyer, left, and DDG-139 Ningbo Sovremenny class Type-956EM destroyer, right, take part in a week-long China-Russia "Joint Sea-2014" navy exercise at the East China Sea off Shanghai, ChinaAssociated Press photo
The Global Times is known for its often provocative articles, intentionally designed to appeal to an alternative audience and differ from the more rigid state media outlets like Xinhua. Dai's rhetoric at the conference is consistent with that trend, as he seemed to welcome an increase in tension, suggesting that confrontation in the South China Sea could create an opportunity for mainland China to retake Taiwan.
"It would boost the speed of our unification of Taiwan," he told the conference. "Let's just be prepared and wait. Once a strategic opportunity emerges, we should be ready to take over Taiwan."
Dai's comments about the use of force in the South China Sea comes on the heels of a near-miss incident that occurred in September when a Chinese Luyang-class destroyer confronted the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Decatur during a FONOP in the Spratly Islands.
During the "unsafe" incident, the Chinese vessel reportedly made preparations to ram the American warship, forcing it off course. The showdown was characterized by one foreign policy expert as "the PLAN's most direct and dangerous attempt to interfere with lawful US Navy navigation in the South China Sea to date."
NEWPORT — The explosion and sinking of the ship in 1943 claimed at least 1,138 lives, and while the sea swallowed the bones there were people, too, who also worked to shroud the bodies.
The sinking of the H.M.T. Rohna was the greatest loss of life at sea by enemy action in the history of U.S. war, but the British Admiralty demanded silence from the survivors and the tragedy was immediately classified by the U.S. War Department.
Michael Walsh of Newport is working to bring the story of the Rohna to the surface with a documentary film, which includes interviews with some of the survivors of the attack. Walsh has interviewed about 45 men who were aboard the ship when it was hit.
Editor's note: this story originally appeared in 2018
How you die matters. Ten years ago, on Memorial Day, I was in Fallujah, serving a year-long tour on the staff and conducting vehicle patrols between Abu Ghraib and Ramadi. That day I attended a memorial service in the field. It was just one of many held that year in Iraq, and one of the countless I witnessed over my 20 years in the U.S. Marine Corps.
Like many military veterans, Memorial Day is not abstract to me. It is personal; a moment when we remember our friends. A day, as Oliver Wendell Holmes said, “sacred to memories of love and grief and heroic youth."