Beijing said that a US Navy surveillance ship approached by several Chinese vessels this weekend was conducting illegal information-gathering, the Washington Post reports. The US had completely misrepresented the incident in its complaint, a Foreign Ministry rep. said, as the USS Impeccable was in a "Chinese exclusive economic zone" without permission. "The US claim is totally inaccurate and confuses right and wrong and is unacceptable to China," Ma Zhaoxu added.
The propriety of the visit hinges on the Impeccable’s intent—and with a Chinese nuclear submarine base 75 miles from where the incident took place, the ship may very well have been there to snoop. Such intelligence-gathering “equals disrespect to Chinese sovereignty,” one Chinese academic said. The Pentagon maintains the ship was conducting routine operations.