Jeffrey LewisA Thanksgiving Follow-Up

By the way, this whole Kitty Hawk visit fiasco just breaks my heart.

Holding aside the bureaucratic bungling that led China to approve, then cancel, and then — too late — finally permit the Kitty Hawk to visit Hong Kong and the importance to international security of good relations between the United States and China, I just feel terrible for the families that traveled to Hong Kong only to have their loved ones have to go back to Japan.

Despite the improvements in life for many Chinese over the last twenty years, Chinese nationals are used to getting treated in this Kafka-esque manner. Of course, all governments — including our own — are capable of bureaucratic cruelty, but the virtue of a representative democracy is to provide a remedy short of violence.

So, although, the cancellation is particularly cruel on Thanksgiving, it also reminds me of our form of government for which I am thankful.


  1. Andy (History)

    When I was in the Navy, I was fortunate to spend Christmas in Hong Kong. This was before control had passed to the PRC (I have been there after the hand-over and was surprised at how little had changed).

    I too, feel for the families, but would point out that flying out to meet a deployed aircraft carrier is inherently risky and families know this. On another deployment my carrier missed a port call (and left many families waiting) when Saddam decided to send a couple of divisions south toward the Kuwaiti border. Instead of some R&R, we steamed at about 28 knots across the Indian Ocean.

    Navy families understand there are no guarantees, but to be turned away as the Kitty Hawk was – and at the last minute – must have been particularly disappointing.

  2. anonymous (History)

    Nothing like the Christmas of 1990 I spent on the Midway. We were in port Abu Dhabi. We were in dress blues despite the 100 degree heat on deck because a) Japan, the Midway’s homeport was in blues and, b) no working uniforms outside the skin of the ship. So there is young seaman Anonymous, incredibly in his dress blues, in a safety harness scraping salt off the deck edge HF antennas. Merry Christmas. Oh yeah. And by the time Thanksgiving had rolled around that year, we were more than a month out of Singapore and still had a month until our three day port call in Abu Dhabi. The first of many holidays spent either at sea or in some weird, out of the way shithole. The best solution is to not count on being around for any holiday and to always assume the worst if you serve in the Armed Forces.

  3. Lao Tao Ren

    Theories abound as to why it happened, including retaliation for the President meeting with the Dailai Lama.

    A more persuasive theory is a rumor the PLA/N objected to the visit after it was approved because they were conducting exercises in the area.

    Never mind that having or not having the Kitty Hawk and its support ships around makes very little difference to the US ability to monitor such exercises.

    But then, you are dealing with a military that still haven’t figured out things like commercial satellites, ELINT, and the sheer number of tourists and electronic equipment that are wide open to monitoring flooding every part of China have made their idea of secrets obsolete.

    However, do congratulate the Chinese security people for the progress they have made: it wasn’t so long ago that even accurate maps were regarded as secrets —- decades after satellites made possible detailed and accurate maps made from their pictures.

    Relations between China and American were damaged by this flip-flop by MOFA for zero gain and benefit to China.

  4. Lao Tao Ren (History)

    The tragedy is now playing out in a full fledged tit-for tat spat between China and the US.

    It is rapidly becoming a EP-3E Aries / J-8 collision rerun.

    Boys and Girls of the US and China…

    Two of the world’s largest economies can manage their relations a bit better than this!

    If I were “Star Child” from 2001, I would reach out and give both sides a tip on the nose and make them behave better toward each other.