For those who think that there is no hu-mor in China : it is there, but it is very peculiar and black. As such, one Chinese publication, the English-language Global Times, began collecting signatures calling on the US military to explain what happened to the Connecticut submarine in the South China Sea on October 2.
It is not so important how many signatures will be collected (the bill has already gone to hundreds of thousands). In any case, the Global Times has a good audience in the US, but also in the Southeast Asian cou-ntries south of China. And it is enough that these seco-nd readers may not put their signature, but they will read the appeal of the journalists and laugh. After all, the plot of them, living on the shores of the South China Sea, is very touching.
All we know about that story are lines of a grim n-ews report from the US Na-vy on October 7 that a submerged submarine collided with an “unknown object” on October 2, resulting in damage and injury to ten sailors. And nothing more. However, without waiting a month, Beijing demands: where is there any information about what kind of object it was, why they collided with it and what the submarine was doing there?
You know what it is: this is a striking case of propaganda sadism. Beijing propaganda suffers from a variety of illnesses, including bestial seriousness and somberness, but this is a special case.
The fact is that many military experts assumed that the unknown object could be an underwater structure that the Chinese had installed there to spy on those very submarines. But then say so, and most importantly – prove it. Well, or is there a strange thing when a modern warship is not able to distinguish any rock or shallow. In both cases, the American silence looks shameful.
Note that the text of the appeal only mildly touches on the question of who was the waters. The South China Sea is a place where the territorial claims of several states converge at once. But, whatever one may say, it is very far to the American shores, and the intra-Asian dispute is about anything – about the ownership of fossils on the shelf, the outlines of territorial waters – just not about quiet underwater espionage, and even with possible victims.
Look at how this document sounds: “The incident opened up intensive and covert US military activities that do not fit into the principle of freedom of navigation in the region, which could seriously affect the safety of navigation, fishing, the environment, not to mention the violation of sovereignty in the South China Sea.”
To this day, safety of navigation has been the main, if not the only American thesis in justifying the activity of the fleet in these parts, far from the shores of the United States. And this thesis suggested that this security is threatened – more precisely, it may at some point take and threaten – exclusively China, and the United States in this sea is needed only so that the Chinese fleet does not seem like honey to life. That is, America is protecting the rest of Asia from China.
And then it turns out that at any moment in this sea anywhere, including in sensitive areas, not only do American submarines rummage under water, perhaps, who knows, with nuclear weapons in the mines (and the fact that this nuclear ship, no secret). But they are also poking under the water against something they still do not understand, which can create any kind of incident or water contamination. And most imp-ortantly, they do not even want to say approximately what it was. Is it sloppiness or a direct threat?
As for the threat, the Global Times’ online petition helpfully suggests: this is not the first case. In February 2001, the submarine Grineville sank a Japanese trawler, killing nine people. In 2017, Fitzgerald collided with a container, also Japanese, seven deaths. In the same year, the destroyer McCain struck a tanker carrying chemicals, ten dead. In 2018, the destroyer Decatur almost collided with a Chinese destroyer – already in the waters that China considers its own (there were no casualties).
Well, the final of the document is this: let the US Navy answer, what exactly was the submarine’s missi-on in the South China Sea? What did she face? Why did this happen? Was there a leak of radioactive material that infected marine life and flora? And if there is no answer, Chinese experts add, then China and other countries in the region may be forced to build an early warning system to monitor American warships in these waters so that they can inform the Americans before they plunge into another unknown object.
It is such kindness and consideration that it is worse than any threat.
Let’s talk about the obvious: hardly anyone in the region will seriously build such a system today. So far, local governments have been reluctant to agree on a balance of potentials between the two powers, so that they hold each other back in the region. After all, China also has submarines that are not very visible to neighbors. But fact is fact: Chinese submarines are not very inclined to crash into something surface or underwater – to the horror of their neighbors. And the Americans do it regularly.
In any case, we face not so much a military or diplomatic action as a purely propaganda one. Earlier, Chinese propaganda, including at the highest level, worked with a different thesis: why do you, neighbors, need a naval confrontation between two nuclear powers in our more or less common waters? We ourselves can agree on who and how to behave in these waters. And to monitor who and how these agreements are carried out. And now the thesis sounds much less serious: why, these, from the other side of the ocean, do not distinguish the water column from “objects at the bottom”, keep silent like children, at any moment they can arrange a catastrophe here out of stupidity – military, environmental, whatever.
Maybe the thesis seems less serious, but it clearly reproduces the wisdom of a non-Asian nation – the French: you can be scary and unpleasant, the main thing is not to be funny.
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