Blunt Words on China from U.S. Navy
Image Credit: U.S. Navy (Flickr)

Blunt Words on China from U.S. Navy


In the context of a recent article in The Australian that China was being invited to America's biggest annual Pacific naval exercise, RIMPAC (which wasn't really news), it is useful to be reminded of the climate of wariness and mistrust in which such invitations are extended. 

The U.S. trade publication Defense News last week posted a video on its blog from a U.S. Naval Institute conference featuring an extraordinarily blunt assessment of China's maritime strategy and ambitions from U.S. Navy Captain James Fanell, Deputy Chief of Staff for Intelligence and Information Operations for U.S. Pacific Fleet. The moderator describes Fanell as the "top intelligence officer" in the Pacific Fleet, which means he is likely advising some of the U.S. military's senior decision-makers on China's military strategy and capability.

Fanell's language is, well, bracing. He calls China "hegemonic" and says it displays "aggression"; he claims China "bullies adversaries" and that it has become a "mistrusted principal threat." Watch Captain Fanell's presentation from about 21 minutes into the above video.

Sam Roggeveen is editor for the Lowy Interpreter, where an edited form of this piece first appeared.

May 21, 2013 at 22:09

The Chinese who fought in WW2 were ROC mainly. Those who survived that and switched sides were sent to die in Korea.


How many of the people in China today have spoken too or listened to someone who fought in either of those wars?

May 21, 2013 at 22:03

How many of the locals died in tibet?


How many of thier supporters have died killed by China?

April 19, 2013 at 10:38

The presence of US armed Forces in the high seas on international and locl waters will create an environment of cooperation, security and peace to both the US and host country, it is deterent to the communist country…

March 14, 2013 at 20:09

To say China’s aggressive stance is due to the fact it has never fought a war is pure nonsense. China engaged in numerous wars throughout its history – too many to mention them all here. What was Japan’s invasion of China during WW2 if not a war? Do you think the Japanese forces were welcomed in with open arms. Heard of Nanjing? The Chinese know the horrors of war as well as any nation! Whether they have learnt from that experience is another question. Few countries seem to have…

February 18, 2013 at 09:25

When will China exercise its historical claim on Macau?… lol… even Portugal could roll China, now that would be amusing to see? If China has the muscle to take on Portugal and engage NATO over ownership of Macau….how hilarious.

February 18, 2013 at 09:10

I think that there are parts of this that are revealing. I like that fact that the panel welcome a Chinese naval presence that would help patrol the global commons. What they seem to worry about is a doctrine, strategy, and weapons system that is oriented towards control. In a sense, the actions of the PLA has created the mindset of the panel. I remember when conversations like this were frowned upon in Washington. It seems Chinese maritime behavior post 2008 have moved everyone more into a Hawkish frame of mind…

February 14, 2013 at 20:33

Hear, hear!!

February 14, 2013 at 20:24

The waiting game works in many ways..we won't have to wait too long until China's unfavourable demographics kick in.

And when they do, watch the world sit back and laugh at China getting its just desserts.

February 14, 2013 at 20:22

@SD Lai

Do YOU understand 'ongoing'? It's quite obvious your esteemed leaders, who passed more than once on the opportunity to state their 'claims' to the Senkakus and other territories, didn't.

February 14, 2013 at 20:19


Yes, that's right, power is only every achieved through the barrel of a gun. This attitude speaks volumes about China, and why the world doesn't welcome it as a world power.

"Just keep the other guy in the cross-hairs"…yeah, like the PLAN did to Japanese ships recently. Proving that China is the aggressor and instigator of all the recent trouble ALL OVER THE REGION.

February 14, 2013 at 20:13

And yet it is CHINESE fisherman that have actually gone further to commit CRIMINAL ACTS by ramming Japanese coastguard vessels in waters around the Senkaku islands. Which belong to Japan.

February 14, 2013 at 20:09


Fortuntely the rest of the world is a lot smarter than arrogant China thinks and sees right through its lies and duplicitous actions. Don't know why it bothered all these years with a charm offensive; what it's doing now has undone all of that and it won't matter how many Confucious institutes it builds, people have seen the real China and they are not impressed much less taken in by shrill CCP propaganda. China holds a grudge like nobody's business, and its bitterness and hatred, coupled with greed and hegemony, are what drives its actions now. Its hypocrisy is breathtaking – continuing to berate Japan for actions committed almost 70 years ago mostly by people long since dead, yet at the very same time intimidating and bullying weaker neighbours around it.

No, the world is not fooled. It sees what China really is, and rejects its thinking, methods and hegemonic ambition. And the region WELCOMES a US prescence her as a bulwark against the Chinese threat.

February 14, 2013 at 19:58

Yes, yes, yes and yes.

February 14, 2013 at 19:55

Well said, very well said.

February 14, 2013 at 19:53

Not to mention the criminal action of Chinese fishing vessels deliberately ramming Japanese coastguard vessels in waters around the Senkakus in late 2010.

February 14, 2013 at 19:51

@vic, EXACTLY. Let's talk about the present and the future. Who's the agressor in the region NOW? Why, it's China. Yet, to suit its own political purposes, China prefers to harp and bleat about the past and the actions of Imperial Japan that took place 70 YEARS AGO. China should get over it and move on. Other countries have. Why can't China? Only those who can forgive and move forward towards a better future can lay any claim to being a responsible world power. China's CURRENT actions show that it is yet to prove itself worthy of being a world power.

February 14, 2013 at 10:59


@papa john

Can you not see the writing on the wall.  Fanell said that US military is now budget-driven; it is now subject to severe economic constraints.  Eventually, they have to sail away – the best option ever.  The waxing and waning of "primacy" (wanting to be numero uno).



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February 14, 2013 at 10:49


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It would be crazy to invade the Philippines.  What happens if they surrender on day one.  Then, you got to feed and take care of more than 90 million poor souls.


February 14, 2013 at 10:09

In the meantime, millions of millions of peasant are becoming urban dwellers annually.

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