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Thayer Consultancy Background Briefing:

ABN # 65 648 097 123


U.S. Freedom of Navigation
Patrols Draws Chinese Verbal
Fire
Carlyle A. Thayer
March 12, 2020
The People’s Liberation Army Southern Command Theatre issued a statement
rebuking the U.S. for letting the USS McCampbell sail unauthorised near the Paracel
Islands yesterday (see below).

We are preparing an analysis of China’s response to the USS McCampbell and request
your views.

ANSWER: The recent passage of the USS McCampbell (DDG-85) in waters near the
Paracel Islands is a standard U.S. Navy freedom of navigation operational patrol
(FONOP). It marks at least the second occasion that the USS McCampbell has traversed
these waters. And it marks at least the seventh FONOP conducted near the Paracels
under the Trump Administration (see Table below, data missing).

FONOPS are conducted to challenge the requirement for advanced notification or


approval to enter these waters by mainland China, Taiwan and Vietnam according to
official U.S. sources. The United States argues that international law does not require
advanced notification.

China has drawn straight base lines around the land features comprising the Paracel
archipelago, unlike the Spratly islands where China has not promulgated baselines.
The U.S. Navy challenges what it says are excessive Chinese claims to a maritime zone
based on these straight baselines. For example, Triton island is an outlying land feature
but China has extended its baselines around this feature.
2

US Freedom of Navigation Operational Patrols


Under the Trump Administration, 2017-2020
(Data incomplete)

1 USS Dewey (DDG-105) May 24, Mischief Reef and other artificial islands
2017

2 USS Stethem (DDG- Jul y 2, 2017 Triton Island, Paracels


63)

3 USS John S. McCain August 10, Mischief Reef


(DDG-56) 2017

4 USS Chafee (DDG-90) October 10, Paracel Islands


2017

5 ? 2017

6 ? 2017 U.S. Pacific Fleet Public Affairs Office reports


six FONOPS in 2017

7 USS Hopper (DDG-70) January 17, Scarborough Shoal


2018

8 USS Mustin (DDG-89) March 23, Mischief Reef


2018

9 USS Higgins (DDG-76) May 27, Tree, Woody, Triton and Lincoln islands,
and USS Antietam 2018 Paracels
(CG-54)

10 USS Decatur (DDG 31) September Gaven and Johnson Reefs


30, 2018

11 USS Chancellorsville November Paracels


(CG-62) 2018

12 USS McCampbell January 7, Paracels


(DDG-85) 2019

13 USS Preble (DDG-88) February Mischief Reef


& USS Spruance (DDG- 2019
111)
3

14 USS Preble (DDG-88) May 6, 2019 Gaven and Johnson Reefs, Spratlys
& USS Chung Hoon
(DDG-93)

15 USS Preble (DDG-88) May 19, Scarborough Shoal


2019

16 USS Wayne E. Meyer Aug 28, Fiery Cross and Mischief Reefs
(DDG-108) 2019

17 USS Wayne E. Meyer Sept 13, Paracels


(DDG-108) 2019

18 ? 2019

19 ? 2019

20 ? 2019 U.S. Pacific Fleet Public Affairs Office reports


nine FONOPS in 2019

21 USS Montgomery January Fiery Cross reef


(LCS-8) 2020

22 USS McCampbell March 10, Paracels


(DDG-85) 2020

Statement by People’s Liberation Army Southern Command:

南部战区新闻发言人就美舰擅闯我西沙领海发表谈话

来源:国防部网责任编辑:丁杨2020-03-11 14:00

中国人民解放军南部战区新闻发言人李华敏大校表示,3月10日,美军“麦
克坎贝尔”号导弹驱逐舰擅自闯入中国西沙领海。中国人民解放军南部战区组织
海空兵力全程对其跟踪监视、查证识别,并予以警告驱离。美方打着“航行自由
”的幌子,一而再、再而三地在南海秀肌肉、挑衅滋事。这是违反国际法规则的
霸权行径,是威胁南海地区和平稳定的祸乱之源。中国对南海诸岛及其附近海
4

域拥有无可争辩的主权,中国军队时刻保持高度戒备,采取一切必要措施,坚
决捍卫国家主权安全,坚决维护南海地区和平稳定。

http://www.mod.gov.cn/topnews/2020-03/11/content_4861822.htm

Suggested citation: Carlyle A. Thayer, “U.S. Freedom of Navigation Patrols Draws


Chinese Verbal Fire,” Thayer Consultancy Background Brief, March 10, 2020. All
background briefs are posted on Scribd.com (search for Thayer). To remove yourself
from the mailing list type, UNSUBSCRIBE in the Subject heading and hit the Reply key.

Thayer Consultancy provides political analysis of current regional security issues and
other research support to selected clients. Thayer Consultancy was officially
registered as a small business in Australia in 2002.