While China and the United States are major economic partners, they cannot seem to help getting into various militarty tiffs. The most recent involves the USS Impeccable and Chinese vessels.
The Chinese alleged that the American surveillance ship entered their waters illegally and that their ships acted correctly in driving the USS Impeccable away. While the incident is a serious one, it seems almost like a confrontation between rival frat boys rather than a confrontation between military powers. Since the Impeccable is unarmed, the crew used the water hoses to try to defend the ship-a tactic I have seen used in college water battles. The Chinese crews responded in the usual fashion-strip down and keep on coming. After all, it is just water. It is also alleged that the Chinese threw wood in front of the Impeccable-this sounds more like some sort of angry neighborhood confrontation between a fast driver and that crazy neighbor who hates that the kids drive too fast on his road. It always strikes me as rather bizarre that many confrontations between nations seem very much like the actions of immature (often drunk) kids. Surely, we can work harder at acting like adults?
Of course, while this sort of incident seems childish in many ways (hoses? Wood throwing? Really?), it is actually deadly serious. This sort of game is all part of political posturing. The Chinese, no doubt, want to show that they are tough and powerful. They way to do this is to go after the guy who is supposed to be tough (in this case, the US). Of course, going after a really tough target (such as US carrier battle group) would be a bit too dangerous-so the usual targets are unarmed ships and planes. To be fair, we are encroaching on Chinese territory, so they must be expected to respond-to fail to do so would, of course, make them seem weak.
While this game must be fun for some folks, it seems that we should be focusing on more serious matters right now. After all, we have plenty of problems to deal with without having another cold war. Then again, perhaps this incident is intended to be a distraction from such problems or even a conscious attempt to ramp up a new cold war. After all, our last cold war was generally quite good for the US economy. Hmm, that sounds just a bit too much like a conspiracy theory, though.