China's Unprofessional Intercept in the Taiwan Strait

June 20, 2023

On June 3, 2023, there was a near-collision between a US and a PRC destroyer in the Taiwan Strait. According to a statement issued by US Indo-Pacific Command, a US Navy destroyer, the USS Chung-Hoon, and a Canadian warship were conducting a routine south to north Taiwan Strait transit through waters where high seas freedoms of navigation and overflight apply. The Luyang III, a People’s Liberation Army destroyer, overtook the Chung-Hoon on her port side and crossed her bow at 150 yards. The US warship maintained course and slowed to 10 knots to avoid a collision. US Indo-Pacific Command stated that the actions of the Chinese destroyer violated the maritime Rules of the Road of safe passage in international waters.

How dangerous was this incident? Why do US warships sail in these waters, and do they do so in accordance with international law? And what steps should be taken to ensure that accidents do not take place between US and Chinese naval vessels?

To discuss these questions, host Bonnie Glaser is joined by Dr. Peter Dutton, professor of international law in the Stockton Center for International Law at the US Naval War College and an adjunct professor of law at New York University School of Law. His research focuses on international law of the sea, Chinese views of sovereignty and international law, and China’s maritime expansion.

Episode Highlights:

[01:50] Freedom of the High Seas

[03:21] Joint Freedom of Navigation Operations

[03:52] Statement by the US Indo-Pacific Command

[04:46] Statement by Defense Minister Li Shangfu

[06:49] History of Dangerous Maneuvering by the Chinese

[07:41] Trigger for the Recent Dangerous Maneuver

[09:13] Chinese Adherence to International Law

[10:19] Signaling Intentions in a Safe and Legal Manner

[12:03] Aftermath of a Hypothetical Collision at Sea

[14:44] Is the US Goading China into Conflict?

[17:38] Rules of Behavior for Safety of Air and Maritime Encounters

[19:24] Code for Unplanned Encounters at Sea

[20:27] The US and the Convention on the Law of the Sea

[21:51] Interactions with Chinese Experts and Professionals