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Freedom of Navigation Operations on the Chinese Periphery

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Technical Report,01 Jun 2017,31 May 2018

Corporate Author:

US Army School for Advanced Military Studies Fort Leavenworth United States

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Freedom of Navigation Operations FONOPS, conducted by the US Navy, are the main form of military interaction between the militaries of the United States and Peoples Republic of China. As historical precedent from the Cold War demonstrates, a relationship between two nuclear-armed competitors may result in ships intentionally colliding on the high seas during FONOPS. Furthermore, the South and East Chinese Seas i.e., the Chinese periphery carry an extraordinary amount of international trade that will continue to increase. These same bodies of water also contain vital fish stock and lay over large amounts of gas and oil in the seabed. This monograph will assess the effectiveness of these important military operations by first understanding the theoretical and legal foundations. Next, by understanding recent changes to the United States strategy and the Chinese geo-political environment, differences between the Cold War precedent and current situation emerge within the context of FONOPS. In analyzing the current situation, this monograph will demonstrate that although unique tensions may continue to rise on the Chinese periphery because of these differences, FONOPS will remain effective for the near future.

Subject Categories:

  • Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics

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