Friday, November 30, 2007
Willy Lam over at The Jamestown Foundation has got some background on the "Hong Kong harbor" incident. It turns out China had a massive military maneuver going on off its southeast coast at the time:
The military drills, which started on November 19, covered a wide swath of the Pacific, including sensitive terrain east of Taiwan and north of the Philippine archipelago. While official PLA media have been reticent about the exercises, Hong Kong papers and military-related websites in China noted that their purpose was to simulate a "pincer attack" on Taiwan as well as a naval blockade...
...Military analysts noted that PLA authorities did not want the Kitty Hawk battle group—whose 8,000-odd sailors had earlier planned to spend Thanksgiving in Hong Kong—to be in the vicinity... On a deeper level, the Kitty Hawk incident reflected Beijing’s anger at Washington's plan to sell Taiwan a $940 million upgrade to its Patriot II anti-missile shield.
Lam also mentions that the tardy decision to deny the Kitty Hawk's previously approved visit, followed by a quick reversal approving the visit for "humanitarian reasons" (the American sailors were on Thanksgiving leave with their families) demonstrates the lack of coordination between the Communist Party, the Chinese government, and the military. The same thing was suggested after the global outcry over the Chinese military's destruction of an outdated orbiting satellite earlier this year, when the Chinese government seemed to be taken by surprise not only by the violence of the world's reaction, but by the fact that the anti-sat strike had even taken place.
So in addition to developing transparency and improved communications with the American military command, the Chinese general staff might want to consider improving their communications with the Chinese government.