A Chinese electronic reconnaissance ship. (Internet photo)
By sending a People's Liberation Army electronic reconnaissance ship into Hawaiian waters, China is ready to project its influence to what it perceives as a "third island chain" which extends from the Aleutian Islands to Australia, what the Chinese have interpreted to be the "strategic rear" of the US military in the Asia-Pacific region, reports the Global Times, a tabloid published under the auspices of the Communist Party mouthpiece People's Daily.
As professor James R Holmes wrote in his article written for the Diplomat, an online current affairs magazine based in Tokyo, the concept of a third island chain does not exist from the perspective of Asia specialists in the United States. However, the location of this island chain, positioned as it is only 2,400 miles from the coast of San Francisco symbolizes, from a Chinese point of view at least, the possibility of expanding Chinese maritime influence to the Eastern Pacific, according to Holmes.
Like the strategic location of Taiwan and Japan within the so-called first island chain, centered on Taiwan, and the second, stretching from Japan to Indonesia, China views Hawaii as the center of the third island chain. As the headquarters of the US Pacific Command, Hawaii from a Chinese perspective also serves as the "strategic rear" for Washington to reinforce its allies in the Western Pacific if a conflict with China were to take place. The Global Times in typically bombastic style said that it is time for China to demonstrate its capabilities to the United States.
From the perspective of the Ta Kung Pao, a Hong-Kong based newspaper funded by the Chinese Communist Party, the deployment of the US carrier, USS George Washington to the Yellow Sea for joint naval exercises with the Republic of Korea Navy and the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force is an act of provocation. For this reason, the electronic reconnaissance ship had been deployed to Hawaiian waters and the Mobile 5 naval exercise was launched in an undisclosed location in the Western Pacific with the participation of China's three major fleets.
The displacement of Chinese electronic reconnaissance ships is between 500 and 4,000 tonnes and they are equipped with a radio receiver, a radar receiver, a signal analyzer and even electronic jamming equipment. The appearance of the electronic reconnaissance ship in Hawaiian waters was posited as proof that China is able to conduct intelligence operations within the territorial waters of the United States, according to the paper, purportedly showing that the largest naval base in the Pacific is no longer safe from a potential Chinese naval attack.