The Viktor Leonov, from shipspotting.com
The truth is, this is normal. The Viktor Leonov didn’t violate any rules. It didn’t cross into territorial waters. It didn’t get in the middle of a live naval exercise. It operated in international waters according to the rules. Before we jump all over Russia, realize that the United States puts warships in their backyard and conducts military exercises near their borders on a regular basis. Allowing this vessel to operate where it did is part of being a responsible member of the established world order, an order that has given prosperity to all nations around the world.
What we should be afraid of is attempts to dismantle this order, which is exactly what China is attempting to do with a revision to its maritime law:
The draft revisions stipulate that authorities will be able to designate specific areas and temporarily bar foreign ships from passing through those areas according to their own assessment of maritime traffic safety….”As a sovereign State and the biggest coastal State in, for example, the South China Sea, China is entitled to adjust its maritime laws as needed, which will also promote peace and stable development in the waters,” Wang said.
This should frighten people. China already considers the entire South China Sea to be its territorial waters. They’ve gone so far as to plant Chinese flags on the sea floor. The certainly don’t respect property rights in the area either, as demonstrated by the illegal seizure of a US unmanned drone.
And in case it still doesn’t scare you:
“China’s waters are open to foreign ships as long as they do not damage the waters’ safety, order, or China’s sovereignty,” Yang said
China’s sovereignty. Which begs the question, what is China?
That definition seems to keep expanding. As the above graphic shows, what is China has morphed over the years. Now it includes Taiwan, Tibet and Xinjiang, and apparently the South China Sea, and even perhaps Hawaii.
That should scare us. The bear, while a problem, is deviating from the rule book. The dragon is throwing out the book entirely.
This post represents the views of the author and not the views of the Department of Defense, Department of the Navy, or any other federal agency. The featured image is from politicalforum.com.