The Pentagon said that the Lassen stayed within the 12-nautical-mile border of the Spratly Islands chain for less than an hour, and that American surveillance equipment recorded images.
The Spratly archipelago is closer to the Philippines than to China. Satellite images show that China has built Subi Reef into an island, using huge dredging equipment, and that it has started constructing a runway capable of accommodating military aircraft. It has completed another such runway in the Spratlys, on Fiery Cross Reef, and is working on a third.
The artificial islands built by China, and the broader issue of its claims over islands and small reefs in nearly 90 percent of the strategically important South China Sea, are among the most contentious issues between Washington and Beijing. The Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia and Vietnam all dispute China’s claims to the Spratly Islands.
The naval maneuver came a month after China’s president, Xi Jinping, and President Obama met in Washington and failed to reach an agreement on China’s claims.
Mr. Xi said at a news conference during his Washington visit that China had no intention of militarizing islands in the South China Sea, but he did not expand on that pledge during his private talks with Mr. Obama, administration officials said. Officials had said before the Lassen’s mission that one purpose of such a patrol would be to test Mr. Xi’s words.
The Lassen operation was intended to show that the United States does not agree that China can prevent American ships from entering a 12-nautical-mile zone that Beijing is claiming around the artificial islands.
The Pentagon apparently chose Subi Reef, which is known as a low-tide elevation, with great care, said Andrew S. Erickson, associate professor at the China Maritime Studies Institute at the United States Naval War College in Rhode Island.
Under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, a low-tide elevation — one naturally submerged at high tide — is not entitled to a 12-nautical-mile territorial limit, Mr. Erickson said. Beyond a 500-meter safety zone, foreign ships and aircraft are free to operate without consultation or permission, he said.
At the Foreign Ministry on Tuesday, Mr. Lu, the spokesman, said that China had sovereignty over the Spratly chain, and hence claimed the 12-nautical-mile zone.
“China has indisputable sovereignty of the Nansha Islands and adjacent waters,” Mr. Lu said, using China’s name for the Spratlys. He said that China was building in the South China Sea for the “public good.”
Referring to the United States, Mr. Lu said, “If the relevant party keeps stirring things up, it will be necessary for China to speed up its construction activities.”
The Lassen’s patrol came a week before the head of the United States Pacific Command, Adm. Harry B. Harris Jr., is scheduled to hold talks in Beijing with senior Chinese military officials.
Admiral Harris, who has criticized China for moving “walls of sand” to create the artificial islands, has been an outspoken proponent of freedom-of-navigation patrols and has warned that the United States will conduct such forays whenever it sees fit.What goes unmentioned in the "news analysis" piece by Cooper and Perlez is any sense of the dialectic of events. Much as the mainstream Western press only refers to "Putin's aggression" in the Crimea when reporting on the civil war in Ukraine with nary a mention of the U.S.-backed neo-Nazi putsch in Kiev that preceded it, China's accelerated island construction is a response to Obama's "Pivot to Asia" and his decision to station troops in Australia. Just as Russia is reacting to U.S. aggression on its doorstep, so too is China. But in both cases it is repackaged in the Western media as as a bellicose challenge to a stable, prosperous "Pax Americana," all of which is bullshit of course, But it is this kind of propaganda, this alternate reality, which is the very basis of U.S. hegemony. Such pestilential fiction cannot be maintained forever.
The Chinese know this. And make no mistake, there will be a Chinese response to the Lassen's voyage through the Fiery Reef. The U.S. is an overextended, hollow power ruled by elites who hover above the masses on a cloud of money; it's inflated "full spectrum dominance" is overripe and ready to be punctured.
China is a nation on the rise. A story that appeared yesterday caught this bachelor's eye. In "Not Enough Women in China? Let Men Share a Wife, an Economist Suggests," by Didi Kirsten Tatlow, it was reported that China will have 30 million bachelors by 2020. As a result of China's one-child policy, and the preference of Chinese parents to have a male breadwinner as that one child (since it is Chinese custom that children maintain their parents in dotage), there is a serious shortage of women. A Chinese economist created a stir when he suggested on his blog that polyandry is a logical solution:
One wife, many husbands.
That’s the solution to China’s huge surplus of single men, says Xie Zuoshi, an economics professor at the Zhejiang University of Finance and Economics, whose recent proposal to allow polyandry has gone viral.
Legalizing marriage between two men would also be a good idea, Mr. Xie wrote in a post that has since been removed from his blogs. (He has at least three blogs, and his Sina blog alone has more than 2.6 million followers.)
By 2020, China will have an estimated 30 million bachelors — called guanggun, or “bare branches.” Birth control policies that since 1979 have limited many families to one child, a cultural preference for boys and the widespread, if illegal, practice of sex-selective abortion have contributed to a gender imbalance that hovers around 117 boys born for every 100 girls.Polyandry would work. It is an anthropologically sound practice. But as a committed bachelor I know that bachelorhood is a much more productive lifestyle than marriage. Bare branches actually bear fruit. This is just another way going forward that the Chinese Dragon will certainly be a much more dynamic creature than the American Eagle.