Pentagon Looks Beyond FONOPs in S. China Sea

ASIA TIMES — The US Navy wants nastier Freedom of Navigation Operations (FONOPs) in the South China Sea — operations within the 12 mile territorial sea imputed to PRC island holdings, and not innocent passage, but something overtly military and intrusive that the US would not permit in its own territorial waters, maybe something with helicopter flights or “signals intelligence.”

That’s no surprise.

The White House is not enthusiastic.

No surprise here either.

The FONOPs strategy appears to have delivered little more than PRC intransigence (absent the direct and overtly humiliating military confrontation I believe Pentagon pivoteers secretly crave), and has impelled the PRC toward an island-based response, one that dodges the PRC’s extremely shaky maritime claims under UNCLOS and instead relies on territorial sovereignty claims (on which the US as a matter of policy takes no position) and lays out the prospect of a multi-decade frozen conflict based on wrangling over South China Sea islands, man-made and otherwise.


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