Home » Budget Industry » U.S., Chinese Navy Leaders Discuss U.S. Freedom of Navigation, South China Sea Operations


U.S., Chinese Navy Leaders Discuss U.S. Freedom of Navigation, South China Sea Operations

Adm. John Richardson attends the 10th Regional Seapower Symposium (RSS) for the Navies of the Mediterranean and Black Sea Countries in Venice, Italy on Oct, 22 2015. US Navy Photo

Adm. John Richardson attends the 10th Regional Seapower Symposium (RSS) for the Navies of the Mediterranean and Black Sea Countries in Venice, Italy on Oct, 22 2015. US Navy Photo

The military leaders of the U.S. and Chinese navies held a video teleconference on Thursday to discuss South China Sea naval and freedom of navigation operations that have inflamed the Chinese government, a Navy official told USNI News.

In the call described by the official as “professional and productive” U.S. Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson and People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) head Adm. Wu Shengli talked through recent, “U.S. freedom of navigation operations; the relationship between the two navies, including pending port visits, senior leader engagement; and the importance of maintaining an ongoing dialogue,” read a statement from the service.

The U.S. official said Wu expressed concerns and asked for additional explanations but made no demands of Richardson.

On Monday, the guided missile destroyer USS Lassen (DDG-82) came within 12 nautical miles of a Chinese installation on Subi Reef in the South China Sea in a freedom of navigation mission drawing the ire of the Chinese military and Foreign Ministry.

The missions also included transits within 12 nautical miles of contested South China Sea holdings of the Philippines and Vietnam.

 Commander in Chief of the People's Liberation Army (Navy) Adm. Wu Shengli on Spet. 18, 2014. US Navy Photo


Commander in Chief of the People’s Liberation Army (Navy) Adm. Wu Shengli on Spet. 18, 2014. US Navy Photo

The Navy and the larger Department of Defense have not offered on-the-record specifics of Lassen’s operation on orders from the White House according to a Tuesday story The New York Times and confirmed by several USNI News sources.

The service did issue another statement outlining the official position on freedom of navigation operations.

“U.S. freedom of navigation operations are global in scope and executed across a wide range of maritime claims. The operations serve to protect the rights, freedoms, and lawful uses of the sea and airspace guaranteed to all nations under international law. Freedom of navigation operations are not a challenge to the sovereignty of land features,” read that statement.
”The United States takes no position on competing sovereignty claims to land features in the South China Sea.”

While the U.S. has stated it doesn’t have a position on the overlapping claims it does not recognize the artificial islands Chinese have finalized in the last several months as sovereign territory.

Earlier on Thursday, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman issued another statement chastising the mission.

“We hope that other countries, especially those outside the region would not create troubles,” said the spokesman.

Wu and Richardson — who had their first teleconference in August — are slated to have a third teleconference later this year.

  • sferrin

    “Earlier on Thursday, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman issued another statement chastising the mission.

    “We hope that other countries, especially those outside the region would not create troubles,” said the spokesman.”

    Oh, that’s rich considering it’s China that’s creating all the trouble.

  • Ctrot

    US Naval vessels should make routine passage within 12 miles of these Chinese made islands. At least once a month.

    • sferrin

      I would change it to two miles and conduct over flights at low altitude as well. Treat them like a patch of open ocean because that’s what they are.

      • Secundius

        @ sferrin.

        There IS NO “Actual” Vertical (Airspace) Territorial Limits. But it’s Generally observed to be ~30,000-meters. The “Highest” Altitude a Terrestrial Aircraft (Air-Breather’s and Balloon’s) are able to reach. Rockets and Missiles are Excluded, because of Self-Oxidizing Propellants…

      • Secundius

        @ sferrin.

        According to Military. com, the Captain of the Lassen (Cmdr. Francis). He came within 6 to 7 Miles of Spratly Islands and was Challenged by a PLAN Destroyer…

  • John B. Morgen

    We [must] conduct ourselves the same way as the Chinese conduct themselves, making routine naval passages in international waters, even innocent safe passage inside territorial waters. We should and must hold our ground or position on this matter. Never backdown before the Chinese, it is a sign of weakness; therefore, we must NOT be misconceived as being weak.