If you liked my critique of Chen Dingding’s Op/Ed about the U.S. spy plane incident but thought that I did a lazy, crappy job of it, I have two comments. First, yeah, it was written just as poorly as everything else on this blog, churned out at night or during my lunch hour in a panicky, gotta-get-back-to-work/bed fashion. So it goes.
Second, and much more important, someone else also decided that Chen’s Op/Ed was ridiculous, but this time thought a measured response, backed up with some thought and a bit o’ research, was a better way to go. That’s a good thing. Go read it at The Diplomat. In the meantime, I’ll entice you with two quotes.
For a state not to conduct intelligence operation against potential adversaries or regional rivals arguably could amount to a breach of the state’s duty to meet and defeat threats to the nation’s security and sovereignty. Chen’s argument is simply that China does not like it, so the United States should not do it: an unacceptable attempt to dictate outcomes at sea and in the airspace above the Chinese near abroad.
[ . . . ]
Of course states spy on other states – they always have, and they always will. The feigned outrage over traditional state intelligence gather activity is equally misplaced in the context of the PRC conducting unwisely aggressive military maneuvers, or in other context, such as European indignation over revelations of electronic intercepts of German political leaders . In fact, every thinking person with any realistic knowledge of how states behave would assume political espionage is occurring regularly, if they gave the question any thought at all. If PRC leadership wants to avoid future confrontations that could easily result in errors, loss of life, or equipment, political miscalculations and military tensions, Beijing should engage in the art of modern statecraft and compete with the United States like varsity-level actors. Chen’s argument about clearly lawful state activity – which roughly is congruent with the argument that would be made by an agent of the PRC itself – fails to acknowledge the reality of how major regional power states conduct international affairs on behalf of their constituent populations.