Timid US FON Operation Not Affects China’s Control of South China Sea

A China coast guard ship patrolling South China Sea. Photo: Getty Images

I have just reblogged Reuters’ report that showing Western media’s satisfaction at US Navy’s resumption of freedom of navigation (FON) operation in the South China Sea.

Reuters quotes US officials who would not reveal their identities as describing the operation as challenging China. However, Foreign Policy says in its article “In the South China Sea, the U.S. is Struggling to Halt Beijing’s Advance” yesterday, “The Pentagon sought to downplay the significance of the operation, which it described as routine. Adm. John Richardson, the chief of naval operations, described the passage at an event in Washington Thursday as ‘not confrontational,’ and said that the so-called freedom of navigation operations by U.S. ships receive exaggerated scrutiny for the supposed diplomatic messages they convey.”

The US can do nothing to put an end to China’s absolute control of the South China Sea with its artificial islands, therefore Foreign Policy says in its article, “Despite a belated U.S. naval patrol, Beijing’s bid to extend its military power over the South China Sea is moving ahead unchecked.”

As pointed our in my previous posts, such FON operations only give China excuse to militarize its artificial islands in the South China Sea.

Foreign Policy describes the situation by quoting Rapp-Hooper, a senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security, as saying, “They basically succeeded in their construction projects, and are now well on their way to having floating bases out in the Spratly Islands, and there’s been really very little pushback and they’ve had to pay very little cost for doing so….It is, unfortunately, now game over.”

Comment by Chan Kai Yee on Reuters’ report that I have just reblogged and Foreign Policy’s article, full text of which can be viewed at http://foreignpolicy.com/2017/05/25/in-the-south-china-sea-the-u-s-is-struggling-to-halt-beijings-advance/?utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Edpix%205-25&utm_term=%2AEditors%20Picks.


10 Comments on “Timid US FON Operation Not Affects China’s Control of South China Sea”

  1. […] warship drill meant to defy China’s claim over artificial island –officials” – “Timid US FON (Freedom of Navigation) Operation Not Affects China’s Control of South China S… – “Beijing Expresses ‘Strong Protest’ Over G7 Discussing South China Sea […]


  2. Joseph says:

    Ironic that Western media only reports this news on a rather small column with the usual five trillion dollars trade bla bla bla that does not even concern American or Japanese economy. This way they would not have ‘space’ to tell the whole story of how the USS Dewey never reached the 12nm from the intended Spartly island. It was intercepted and chased away by a smaller Chinese destroyer Liuzhou, where its not-so-‘innocent’ passage excuse was not accepted. I wonder what objective that the American tried to get, sending a rogue mission only to be chased away with tail between the legs is obviously embarrassing. No one chased away American warship in the past. And the Chinese would not chase American warship away if they are given this chance. Soon, every warship in the region, including Phillipines ex-coast guard cutters would chase American warship away with confidence. And by then, who will respect the American anymore?


  3. Steve says:

    Okay thanks. Future PH Presidents are bogged down by the PCA award. Any incursions by PH around Huangyan island will meet similar fate as in the Aquino Scarborough standoff. The only difference, I believe is that China will surely engineer the island into a military outpost including coastguard and tourism.


  4. Simon says:

    So American chief Adm. John Richardson describe the FONOPS as “not confrontational” and being exaggerrated by the media. This implies the “man overboard” drill never happened
    Whether the drill really happened with 12 miles of Michief Reef the official line from the American side is it never happened. If it the drill did took place the Americans have now regetted its action and would be so for several reasons including harming its ties with China in confronting N Korea and also the fact that America is no longer the boss in the SCS.
    I think the FONOP and drill did took place inside the 12 mile radius of Mishief Reef and was done in response to China intercepting American spy plane in China’s ADIZ over the ECS. Trump ordered the FONOP and drill but the USS Dewey was surrounded and escorted out of China’s premises by two Chinese frigates a show of force that humiliated the Americans. The behind the scene show over this incident is for America is to downplay the whole thing as none confrontational and nothing actually happened to counter media claims and for the Chinese to not mention that they threatened USS Dewey forcing them to turn tail.


  5. Steve says:

    Over the horizon in the SCS is now China’s lake. It’s game on for China to set up floating platforms, naval docks and research centres to galvanise China’s indisputable sovereignty.

    US protectionism is too rigid, China’s globalisation has tremendous free space to act at free will, drawing bilateral and multilateral partnerships worldwide as seen recently at OBOR.

    Uncle HAN is Ascending to the Zenith —– Auntie SAM is receding and retreating. Except for it’s Ohio class submarines, the US surface warships are reaching Junk status.


  6. Fre Okin says:

    As I said, Game Over for USN Military FONOP if Chinese frigates, destroyers also show up near Scarborough Shoal and Explain to the Philippines this is what China is forced to do to Get Duterte Motivated To Tell US to Get Lost, Same like US put pressure on China to rein in N Korea, China can use Scarborough Shoal FONOP to rein in USN. Tit for tat!


    • Steve says:

      Agree, but should your last sentence read, ‘China can use Scarborough Shoal FONOP to rein in Philippines’ instead of USN.


      • Fre Okin says:

        The Marketing part is to Use Scarborough FONOP as an excuse to Motivate Duterte to tell US to get lost. Mischief Reef is really Ground Zero as this is where Chinese radars can be placed to detect US stealth jets if they ever put on PH soil, plus close monitoring of US subs, UUVs etc in Subic Bay and perhaps Oyster Bay in Palawan. This is why US focus more on Mischief Reef than other places.

        Since China have no intention to pick a fight with PH, China Should Not threaten FONOP near Scarborough Shoal based on displeasure with PH. It create a bad impression of ‘bully’.

        The trick is to tell PH the FONOP is not directed at them But based on UNCLOS law Exactly as US interpret ‘Low Tide Elevation’. SINCE US can do Military FONOP, Why Not China? Let PH lawyers, nationalists cook their brains and they have No argument against China.

        Scarborough Shoal is that kind of feature where UNCLOS permit within 12 NM, even up to 500′ since most are low tide elevation. So China can explain the legal basis Just Like US claim to do FONOP near Mischief Reef, Law Vs Law argument. This kind of FONOP will make nationalists in PH go berserk because the UNCLOS law is not on their side, EVEN if Scarborough Shoal is theirs, The Sea around it could be penetrated up to 500 feet. They Must be Reminded PCA ruling last year ‘Taiping island’ is a Rock 12 NM limit, and Scarborough Shoal Low Tide Only 500 feet Just Like what US like to claim about Mischief Reef.

        Further US destroyers Need to be serviced in PH and China can tell PH they are in fact accomplices of US FONOP, so IF US ships Depart from PH port, Then Chinese FONOP near Scarborough Shoal May convince them to chase US out of their port.