China monitors US bombers in defense zone

B-52  J15-fighterChina’s defense ministry spokesman Geng Yansheng on Wednesday said the country has observed US B-52 bombers flying in the newly established air defense identification zone over East China Sea.


Geng said the US aircraft flew south and north along the eastern border of the East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone from 11:00 a.m. to 1:22 pm Tuesday, about 200 km to the east of the Diaoyu Islands.

The Chinese army monitored the entire process, carried out identification in a timely manner, and ascertained the type of aircraft.

“We need to stress that China will identify every aircraft flying in the air defense identification zone according to the country’s announcement of aircraft identification rules for the air defense identification zone,” Geng said.

“China is capable of exercising effective control over this airspace,” Geng added.

China announced the East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone on Saturday. The US State Department and certain officials expressed concern after the announcement.

Pentagon spokesman Colonel Steven Warren said Tuesday that the US conducted a training exercise that had been planned for a long time. It involved two aircraft flying from Guam and returning to Guam.- Xinhua

US B-52 bombers challenge China’s new ADIZ

China’s latest move in defending its sovereignty is facing opposition from other countries. Two US B-52 bombers have flown over the Diaoyu Islands in the East China Sea, in defiance of the air defense identification zone set on Saturday. China is taking a measured response, while stressing that it has the ability to manage and control its airspace.


Just days after China announced the establishment of an air defense identification zone, or A-D-I-Z. The US sent two B-52 bombers through the zone and over the Diaoyu Islands

China’s defense ministry asserted it has the ability to control the airspace. It says it identified the aircraft and monitored the entire two hours and 22 minutes.

The US said it was a long planned training mission, and put its own spin on the matter to fault China.

“This unilateral action appears to be an attempt to unilaterally change the status quo in the East China Sea. This will raise regional tensions and increase the risk of miscalculation, confrontation, and accidents. We have made this case to China.” US State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said.

Japan, which claims the Diaoyu Islands as its territory, was quick to join its ally.

“Our stance is that China’s move cannot be accepted, and so I think the US is also dealing with the issue with the same stance.” Japanese defense minister Itsunori Onodera said.

Aircraft flying through an A-D-I-Z must report a flight plan, maintain two-way radio contact and respond to identification inquiries, or face defensive emergency measures.

More than 20 countries and regions use such zones, including the US and many of China’s neighbors.

The Foreign Ministry called for calm, saying the zone does not target any country.

“China’s establishment of an air defense identification zone over the East China Sea is a legitimate exercise of the right of self-defense. It’s not aimed at any particular country or target. So we hope that the countries concerned will not overreact or panic over the event.” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said.

China has also lodged protests over US and Japanese criticism. The country says the establishment of the zone has a sound legal basis and is in accordance with common international practice.

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China sets up air defence zone over East China Sea, a strategic move

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China calls for peace & stability, patrols in Asian seas legitimate

East meet West_12th Shangri-La DialogueEast meets West: China’s People’s Liberation Army deputy chief of general staff, Lieutenant General Qi Jianguo (right), welcomes US Navy Admiral Samuel Locklear, the commander of US forces in the Pacific region, to a meeting on the sidelines of the 12th International Institute for Strategic Studies Asia Security Summit: The Shangri-La Dialogue, in Singapore on Sunday. Reuters/Edgar Su

The 12th Shangri-la Dialogue, also known as the Asia-Pacific Security Summit,  has concluded in Singapore. China’s representative has insisted that its development is peaceful and poses no threat to the Asia-Pacific region.

Instead of focusing on conflicts, this year’s Shangri-la dialogue has taken the theme of cooperation. That theme was evident in a speech delivered by Lieutenant General Qi Jianguo, deputy chief of general staff of the People’s Liberation Army of China.

Qi Jianguo, Deputy Chief of General Staff, PLA, said, “China will always follow the road of peaceful development and remain committed to peaceful, open, co operative and mutually beneficial development. China’s development and prosperity is a major opportunity rather than a challenge or even a threat to countries in the Asia-Pacific region. China seeks cooperation and mutual benefit, and just its own exclusive development.”

Qi also said that China encourages dialogue and consultation to resolve disputes in the region, but it will not waiver in its determination to safeguard national interests.

“China’s hope for sustained peace and stability in this region, and its stress on dialogue and consultation for the sake of peace by no means denotes unconditional compromise. Our resolve and commitment to safeguarding core national interests always stands steadfast.”

In 2012, the US officially laid out a strategy of rebalancing its presence in the region. One year on, its relationship with China has become a center of attention at the Dialogue. US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said the US welcomes the rise of a powerful and responsible China.

Chuck Hagel, US Defense Secretary, said, “We have interests here too, just as China and Russia and other nations have interests all over the world. We don’t want miscalculations and misunderstandings. The only way you do that is to talk to each other. You got to be direct with each other. You have to share with each other. I think we are on track with that. We’ve made progress on that. I think we’ve made continued progress and we’ll make more progress.”

The Shangri-La Dialogue was launched in 2002. It aims to provide a platform for Asia-Pacific military and government officials to foster practical security cooperation in the region. – (Source:

Chinese patrols in Asian seas legitimate 

Chinese warships will continue to patrol waters where Beijing has territorial claims, a top general said Sunday, amid simmering rows with neighbouring countries over the South China Sea and islands controlled by Japan.

Lieutenant General Qi Jianguo, deputy chief of the general staff of the People’s Liberation Army, defended the patrols as legitimate and said his country’s sovereignty over the areas could not be disputed.

“Why are Chinese warships patrolling in East China Sea and South China Sea? I think we are all clear about this,” Qi told the annual Shangri-La Dialogue security conference in Singapore.

“Our attitude on East China Sea and South China Sea is that they are in our Chinese sovereignty. We are very clear about that,” he said through an interpreter.

“So the Chinese warships and the patrolling activities are totally legitimate and uncontroversial.”

Qi was responding to a question from a delegate after giving a speech in which he sought to assure neighbouring countries that China has no hegemonic ambitions.

“China has never taken foreign expansion and military conquering as a state policy,” he said.

One delegate however said there appeared to be growing regional scepticism over China’s peaceful intentions because it was inconsistent with moves to send naval patrols to waters where other countries also have claims.

China is locked in a territorial dispute with Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam in the South China Sea.

The four states have partial claims to islands but China says it has sovereign rights to nearly all of the sea, including areas much closer to other countries and thousands of kilometres from the Chinese coast.

China also has a dispute with Japan over the Senkaku islands, which Beijing calls the Diaoyus, in the East China Sea.

“I do hope the statements of the good general today will be translated into action,” Philippine Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin told reporters.

He said Qi’s remarks about China having no hegemonic ambitions were “far from what is happening” in the sea.

Manila last month protested at what it called the “provocative and illegal presence” of a Chinese warship near Second Thomas Shoal, which is occupied by Philippine troops.

Among the other moves that have caused alarm were China’s occupation of a shoal near the Philippines’ main island last year, and the deployment in March of Chinese naval ships to within 80 kilometres (50 miles) of Malaysia’s coast.

Competing claims have for decades made the area — home to rich fishing grounds and vital global shipping lanes and believed to sit atop vast natural gas deposits — one of Asia‘s potential military flashpoints.

China and Vietnam fought in 1974 and 1988 for control of islands in battles that left dozens of soldiers dead.

The US-China strategic rivalry also loomed large during the conference, with US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel on Saturday accusing Beijing of waging cyber espionage against the United States.

But General Qi on Sunday allayed concerns that China had dropped a pledge not to be the first to use nuclear weapons in a conflict.

Omission of the “no-first-use” pledge in a recent defence white paper had created ripples in military circles and sparked speculation that China may have abandoned the policy.

Qi also distanced his government from claims by some Chinese scholars that the Ryukyu Islands, which include Okinawa, do not belong to Japan.

“This is only an article of particular scholars and their views on these issues… it does not represent the views of the Chinese government,” he said.

- Source:

China heaps scorn on Abe remarks to boost US alliance (against China)

Abe US Visit1

Washington (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Japan’s new Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is in the United States to forge a new and closer alliance with the Unit States in opposition to China. Elected in December, the hawkish Abe arrived in Washington yesterday. Today he is scheduled to meet US President Barack Obama. The timing of the visit is not accidental, given rising tensions with China over a group of islands and North Korea’s ever-dangerous threats

.In an interview with a US paper ahead of his trip, Abe voiced hope that the US alliance – and the presence of 47,000 American troops on Japanese soil under a security treaty – would send a message to China. “It is important for us to have them recognise that it is impossible to try to get their way by coercion or intimidation,” Abe explained.


The Chinese foreign ministry on Friday continued to slam Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who pointed the finger at China on a slate of domestic issues during an interview prior to his visit to the US.

The ministry accused Japan of playing up the “China threat” with ulterior motives.

“China is strongly dissatisfied with the Japanese leader’s comments that distort facts, attack and defame China and stir up confrontations between the two countries,” Hong Lei, spokesman for the foreign ministry, told a press briefing.

Hong’s comments followed others from Thursday and came in response to Abe’s accusations, which claimed China had a “deeply ingrained” need to spar with Japan and neighboring countries to “maintain domestic support,” according to the Washington Post.

Echoing the Chinese side’s requirement for immediate clarifications, Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga explained Friday that the newspaper misquoted Abe’s remarks and had caused a misunderstanding.

Suga said the prime minister has repeatedly emphasized the Japan-China relationship and would push forward strategic and mutually beneficial relations.

Despite the explanation, the transcript of the exclusive interview published by the Washington Post on Thursday showed that the hawkish Japanese leader lambasted China’s political and education systems among other issues.

During the interview, Abe said that under the one-party rule of the Communist Party and having introduced a market economy, China needs to maintain high economic growth by seeking resources through coercion or intimidation while teaching patriotism mirroring an “anti-Japanese sentiment.”

“Obviously, Abe tries to tarnish China’s image in the international community and hype up the ‘China threat’ before talks with Obama in order to win US sympathy and support,” Lü Yaodong, a researcher of Japanese politics at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times Friday.

Hong said that only Chinese people have the right to speak about whether China’s political system and development strategy are suitable.

“Only those with political bias and ulterior motives would maliciously interpret and blame them,” he noted.

Huang Dahui, director of the Center for East Asia Studies at the Renmin University of China, told the Global Times that this reflected the “value-oriented” diplomacy Abe has been adopting to “flatter” the US, adding that the hawkish Japanese leader has also stressed propaganda throughout his political career.

Abe was scheduled to meet Obama on Friday. During a press conference on Thursday, White House Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes said the meeting is a “further symbol of the President’s commitment to the US-Japan alliance as a cornerstone of US economic and security policy, and as a cornerstone of the US-Asia policy.”

Danny Russel, senior director for Asia at the National Security Council, said the two leaders are expected to discuss maritime security issues and territorial claims both in the East China Sea and the South China Sea.

In his interview with the Washington Post, Abe also warned that without changing its current policy, China would lose the confidence of the international community, which will result in a loss of foreign investment.

“The logic is ridiculous. It is Japan that has stirred up provocation by ‘nationalizing’ the Diaoyu Islands. It should rethink its own policies,” said Lü.

Regarding such remarks, Russel said Obama would listen to Abe’s assessment and views on the current situation in the East China Sea and the consultations between Tokyo and Beijing. He added that the US opposition to coercive actions or unilateral steps threatening the stability of the region has been “clear.”

A commentary carried by the Xinhua News Agency on Friday said the US should not be “hijacked” by Japan over the territorial dispute with China, as the US support for Japan on this issue “would not only damage Washington’s credibility as a constructive superpower, but also as an important partner of China on many pressing global issues.”

Huang said in terms of China-related issues, the US would show its support to Japan as an ally, but would not be led by Japan to sacrifice the China-US relationship.

Sources: Times

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Japan’s smear campaign, trade bards with China over radar incident near disputed isles

Japan’s smear campaign, trade bards with China over radar incident near disputed isles

Beijing accused Tokyo Thursday of mounting a smear campaign after Japan said a Chinese frigate had locked its weapons-targeting radar on a Japanese warship in a “threat of force.”

Japan Maritime SDF destroyer Yuudachi

Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force destroyer Yuudachi is seen in this undated handout photo released by Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force and obtained by Reuters on February 5, 2013. A Chinese vessel pointed a type of radar normally used to help guide missiles at a Japanese navy ship near disputed East China Sea islets, prompting the Japanese government to lodge a protest with China. Image by: HANDOUT / REUTERS

The world’s second- and third-largest economies are at loggerheads over uninhabited Japanese-controlled islands in the East China Sea, known as Senkaku in Tokyo and Diaoyu by Beijing, which claims them.

The radar incident, which Japan said happened last week, marked the first time the two nations’ navies have locked horns in a dispute that has some commentators warning about a possible armed conflict.

Asked to respond to Japanese Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera’s description of the radar targeting as a “threat of force”, Beijing foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said: “Recently Japan has been hyping up crisis and deliberately creating tension to smear China’s image.

“This move is counter to the improvement of relations,” she told a regular briefing.

“The current problem is not China being assertive but about Japanese ships’ and airplanes’ repeated illegal activities in the airspace and waters of the Diaoyu islands, which undermine China’s territorial sovereignty.”

The long-running row over the islands intensified in September when Tokyo nationalised part of the chain, triggering fury in Beijing and huge anti-Japan demonstrations across China.

Beijing has repeatedly sent ships and aircraft near the islands and both sides have scrambled fighter jets, though there have been no clashes.

The Chinese Defense Ministry has denied that a Chinese navy vessel aimed weapon-targeting radar at a Japanese navy ship in the East China Sea. It’s also called on Japan to stop violating China’s territorial sovereignty.


The Ministry says the vessel was conducting normal training on January 30th, when it detected a Japanese naval ship following it. The Chinese vessel used normal radar to monitor, contrary to Japanese claims.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry also says Japan is provoking tension over the Diaoyu islands by intentionally stirring up a crisis. It says Japan is continuously sending its ships and aircraft into the waters and airspace around the Diaoyu Islands to carry out illegal activities.

China and Japan engaged on Friday in a fresh round of invective over military movements near a disputed group of uninhabited islands, fueling tensions that for months have bedevilled relations between the two major Asian powers.

China’s defense ministry rejected a Japanese allegation that a naval vessel had aimed a weapons-targeting radar at a Japanese military ship in the East China Sea, its first comment on the week-old incident. It said Japan’s intrusive tracking of Chinese vessels was the “root cause” of the renewed tension.

A Japanese official on Friday dismissed the Chinese explanation for the Jan 30 incident. He said Beijing’s actions could precipitate a dangerous situation in waters around the islets, known as Diaoyu in China and Senkaku in Japan, believed to be rich in oil and gas.

China’s defense ministry, in a faxed statement issued late on Thursday, said Japan’s remarks “do not match the facts”. The Chinese ship’s radar, it said, had maintained regular alerting operations and “did not use fire control radar.”

The ministry said the Chinese ship was tracked by a Japanese destroyer during routine training exercises. Fire control radar pinpoints the location of a target for missiles or shells and its use can be considered a step short of actual firing.

Japan, it said, had recently “made irresponsible remarks that hyped up the so-called ‘China threat’, recklessly created tension and misled international public opinion.

“In recent years, Japanese warships and airplanes have often conducted long periods of close-range tracking and surveillance of China’s naval ships and airplanes. This is the root cause of air and maritime security issues between China and Japan.”

In Tokyo, Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a news conference on Friday: “We cannot accept China’s explanation.”

Japan’s allegations, he said, had been “a result of our defense ministry’s careful and detailed analysis. We urge China to take sincere measures to prevent dangerous actions which could cause a contingency situation.”

Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera said this week that the incident could have become very dangerous very quickly, and that use of the radar could be seen as a threat of military force under U.N. rules.

Hopes have been rising in recent weeks for a thaw in ties after months of tension, sparked, in part, by Japan’s nationalisation of three of the privately owned islets last September.

Fears that encounters between aircraft and ships could degenerate into an accidental clash have given impetus to efforts to improve links, including a possible summit between Abe and Chinese leader Xi Jinping, who takes over as head of state in March.

China’s premier-in-waiting Li Keqiang, meanwhile, urged marine surveillance staff on Thursday to intensify law enforcement in China’s sea territories, according to the official Xinhua news agency.

“Supervising and governing seas under the jurisdiction of China is the main responsibility of Chinese marine surveillance staff,” Li, who is expected to take over as China’s premier next month, was quoted as saying.

It is believed the island chain—which is also claimed by Taiwan (a province of China)

Sources: AFP/Japan Todayh/Reauters/CCTV

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Would the 3 Japanese wise men invited by China help ties with Japan?

Who owns Diaoyu Islands?

Would the 3 Japanese wise men invited by China help ties with Japan?

China_Japan TiesSINCE last month, tensions over the disputed islands in the East China Sea, known as Diaoyu to China and Senkaku to Japan, have noticeably declined, largely as a result of conciliatory words and actions by Japanese political figures visiting China.

The first was by Yukio Hatoyama of the opposition Democratic Party of Japan, who was prime minister in 2009-2010 and who had advocated closer ties with China while in office. Hatoyama took issue with Japan’s position of denying that there was a territorial dispute, saying “if you look at history, there is a dispute”.

The former leader also visited a memorial in Nanjing honouring those who were killed in 1937 and apologised for “the crimes that Japanese soldiers committed during wartime”.

Hatoyama’s visit was widely publicised in the Chinese media, which published pictures of him and his wife at the Nanjing Massacre Memorial bowing in silent tribute to the dead.

The normally nationalistic Chinese newspaper Global Times declared editorially: “Hatoyama’s words and deeds these days show that in spite of the tough environment, forces which are friendly to China have not disappeared.”

Shortly after Hatoyama’s departure from China, Natsuo Yamaguchi, leader of the New Komeito Party — a coalition partner of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party — arrived in China, carrying with him a letter from Prime Minister Shinzo Abe for Xi Jinping, the new leader of the Communist Party of China.

Yamaguchi was received by Xi on Jan 25, and, aside from passing over the letter from the prime minister, he also suggested that the territorial dispute be shelved for now and to let future generations deal with the issue.

Xi no doubt knew that the Japanese politician was paraphrasing the late Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping who, while visiting Tokyo in 1978, famously said, “Our generation is not wise enough to find common language on this question. Our next generation will certainly be wiser. They will certainly find a solution acceptable to all.”

Alas, no solution is yet in sight and the best policy is to put the dispute back on the shelf.

Yamaguchi also suggested a summit meeting between Abe and Xi, and the Chinese leader responded that he would consider it seriously if there was a “proper environment”.

Xi also said that China wanted to promote a “strategic relationship of mutual benefit” with Japan.

Soon, a third influential Japanese political figure arrived, another former prime minister, Tomiichi Murayama, whose visit, like the other two, contributed to the establishment of an improved environment.

It was Murayama who, while in power, issued an apology on historical issues that was widely hailed in Asia.

The visits by these three Japanese figures have contributed to a lowering of tensions, making it possible to envisage a thaw in China-Japan relations.

What is significant is that these three men were all invited by Beijing, which of course had a good idea of what they were likely to say and do. That is to say, without denigrating their contributions to the lessening of the impasse, the improved atmosphere of the last few weeks was largely the result of initiatives taken by China.

Japan, too, clearly wants to keep tensions low. Abe has now made it clear that he endorses the Murayama’s statement, although there is still some talk of making a new statement “suitable to the 21st century”. But there is unlikely to be any backtracking.

It is imperative at this stage that both Japan and China recognise the delicate political environment in the other’s country. Each should rein in its own aggressive nationalistic forces.

It is also necessary for each side not to say or do anything that may be humiliating or embarrassing to the other side. Threatening to fire “warning shots”, for example, is not helpful.

A lot of damage has been done to China-Japan relations. It will take time for the relationship to heal.

When Abe became prime minister for the first time in 2006, he went to China on his first overseas visit to mend relations damaged during the premiership of Junichiro Koizumi, who insisted on visiting the Yasukuni Shrine each year.

This led to a dramatic improvement in relations, with Premier Wen Jiabao making an “ice-melting” visit to Japan in 2007, followed by a presidential visit by Hu Jintao the following year.

Another China-Japan summit will be indispensable if ties are to be rebuilt.

This, however, cannot take place until the necessary groundwork has been laid. Both sides will have to work hard at this. And flexibility should be the watchword.

Diaoyu Islands_China1

The row over the disputed islets, known as the Senkaku in Japan and the Diaoyu in China, are seen in this file handout photograph taken on a marine surveillance plane B-3837 on December 13, 2012, and provided by the State Oceanic Administration of People’s Republic of China. A long-simmering row over the East China Sea islands, has noticeably declined, largely as a result of conciliatory words and actions by Japanese political figures visiting China. Reuters pic 

By Frank Ching New Straits Times

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China sends fighters to counter Japan’s war planes

China’s Ministry of National Defense has denounced Japanese military aircraft disrupting the routine patrols of Chinese administrative aircraft.

At a press conference, an official with the ministry confirmed that China sent two J-10 fighters to the East China Sea, after a Y-8 aircraft was closely followed by two Japanese F-15 fighters. The Y-8 aircraft was patrolling the southwest airspace of the East China Sea oil platform on Thursday.

According to the official, the two J-10 fighters were sent to monitor the Japanese fighter jets tailing the Y-8 as well as another Japanese reconnaissance plane spotted in the same airspace. The official said Japanese military aircraft have been increasingly active in closely scouting Chinese aircraft.

The official said the Chinese military will be on high alert and China will resolutely protect the security of its air defense force and uphold its legitimate rights. The official also called for the Japanese side to respect relevant international laws and to prevent security disputes by taking effective measures.

Chinese Foreign Ministry:
China reaffirms routine military flights over East China Sea
Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei made the comments at a press briefing on Friday, responding to media reports that Japan deployed fighter jets to head off a number of Chinese military planes over the East China Sea on Thursday. Full story >>

China urges Japan to pursue peaceful development
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei has urged Japan to draw lessons from history and pursue a path of peaceful development. Hong Lei made the remarks at a regular press conference on Thursday, expressing China’s stance towards Japan’s plan to raise its defense budget in 2013. Full story >>

Japan responsible for plight with China
A spokesman for China’s Foreign Ministry on Friday urged the Japanese government to “face reality” in Sino-Japanese relations. Spokesman Hong Lei said at a daily press briefing that Japan single-handedly pushed Sino-Japanese relations into a difficult situation. Full story >>

Ministry of National Defense:
Japanese military aircraft disrupting the routine patrols of Chinese administrative aircraft

At a press conference, an official with the ministry confirmed that China sent two J-10 fighters to the East China Sea after a Y-8 aircraft was closely followed by two Japanese F-15 fighters as it patrolled the southwest airspace of the East China Sea oil platform on Thursday. Full story >>

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 Japan tracer bullets will bring war closer

According to Japanese media, the Japanese government is considering permitting Japanese self-defense forces’ fighter jets to fire tracer bullets as warning shots against Chinese surveillance planes which have “infringed” upon Japan’s “territorial airspace” over the Diaoyu Islands.

A Chinese foreign ministry spokesman said yesterday that China has consistently opposed Japan’s infringement upon China’s sovereignty over the Diaoyu Islands. China “remains vigilant against attempts to escalate the tensions.”

The Chinese spokesman’s statement is not enough to express the Chinese people’s strong determination to fight back against Japan’s unscrupulous action.

We believe that if Japan starts using tracer bullets, it will definitely trigger a military confrontation between China and Japan. Chinese people will certainly ask the government to send naval and air forces to retaliate.

Tracer bullets were used by Japan to warn Soviet Union surveillance aircraft above the Okinawa Prefecture in 1987. However, the relationship between the Soviet Union and Japan was one of war and invasion. The Diaoyu Islands are a typical disputed area.

We believe that China is carefully assessing plans to deploy combat aircraft to the Diaoyu Islands due to the imbalance between China’s surveillance aircraft and Japan’s fighter jets. If Japan uses tracer bullets, Chinese fighter jets are bound to be sent to the Diaoyu Islands.

China’s replacing surveillance aircraft with fighter jets does not mean they will conduct military operations there. These are upgrades of China’s ability to defend its sovereignty in the face of Japan’s provocations. All of East Asia would face tension in that scenario, but we have no choice. We do not wish to begin a war with Japan. However, if Japan insists on provocations, we will follow it through to the end.

If the Chinese government does not earnestly prepare for it, it will certainly suffer huge political losses. The public wouldn’t understand that and they would not accept any interpretations by the government.

China may fall into military conflict with Japan eventually. We hope we can continue our peaceful development, but our risk management strategies are more complex due to various pressures.

There is little room for concessions. Therefore, let us abandon all hesitation and seriously prepare for mutual warnings and confrontation with Japan over the Diaoyu Islands. If the situation goes awry, we must make Japan pay more of a price than China.

The Diaoyu Islands dispute will test the Chinese government’s leadership for a long time. But we should have confidence: our rival is a bully which can even bear US military occupation. As long as we keep tough, we will not lose this test of wills. - Global Times

World Insight 01/13/2013 China-Japan relations CCTV News – CNTV English.

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Dispute with China takes toll on Japan

China’s military rise

AT A meeting of South-East Asian nations in 2010, China’s foreign minister Yang Jiechi, facing a barrage of complaints about his country’s behaviour in the region, blurted out the sort of thing polite leaders usually prefer to leave unsaid. “China is a big country,” he pointed out, “and other countries are small countries and that is just a fact.” Indeed it is, and China is big not merely in terms of territory and population, but also military might. Its Communist Party is presiding over the world’s largest military build-up. And that is just a fact, too—one which the rest of the world is having to come to terms with.

That China is rapidly modernising its armed forces is not in doubt, though there is disagreement about what the true spending figure is. China’s defence budget has almost certainly experienced double digit growth for two decades. According to SIPRI, a research institute, annual defence spending rose from over $30 billion in 2000 to almost $120 billion in 2010. SIPRI usually adds about 50% to the official figure that China gives for its defence spending, because even basic military items such as research and development are kept off budget. Including those items would imply total military spending in 2012, based on the latest announcement from Beijing, will be around $160 billion. America still spends four-and-a-half times as much on defence, but on present trends China’s defence spending could overtake America’s after 2035 (see chart).

All that money is changing what the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) can do. Twenty years ago, China’s military might lay primarily in the enormous numbers of people under arms; their main task was to fight an enemy face-to-face or occupy territory. The PLA is still the largest army in the world, with an active force of 2.3m. But China’s real military strength increasingly lies elsewhere. The Pentagon’s planners think China is intent on acquiring what is called in the jargon A2/AD, or “anti-access/area denial” capabilities. The idea is to use pinpoint ground attack and anti-ship missiles, a growing fleet of modern submarines and cyber and anti-satellite weapons to destroy or disable another nation’s military assets from afar.

In the western Pacific, that would mean targeting or putting in jeopardy America’s aircraft-carrier groups and its air-force bases in Okinawa, South Korea and even Guam. The aim would be to render American power projection in Asia riskier and more costly, so that America’s allies would no longer be able to rely on it to deter aggression or to combat subtler forms of coercion. It would also enable China to carry out its repeated threat to take over Taiwan if the island were ever to declare formal independence.

China’s military build-up is ringing alarm bells in Asia and has already caused a pivot in America’s defence policy. The new “strategic guidance” issued in January by Barack Obama and his defence secretary, Leon Panetta, confirmed what everyone in Washington already knew: that a switch in priorities towards Asia was overdue and under way. The document says that “While the US military will continue to contribute to security globally, we will of necessity rebalance towards the Asia-Pacific region.” America is planning roughly $500 billion of cuts in planned defence spending over the next ten years. But, says the document, “to credibly deter potential adversaries and to prevent them from achieving their objectives, the United States must maintain its ability to project power in areas in which our access and freedom to operate are challenged.”

It is pretty obvious what that means. Distracted by campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan, America has neglected the most economically dynamic region of the world. In particular, it has responded inadequately to China’s growing military power and political assertiveness. According to senior American diplomats, China has the ambition—and increasingly the power—to become a regional hegemon; it is engaged in a determined effort to lock America out of a region that has been declared a vital security interest by every administration since Teddy Roosevelt’s; and it is pulling countries in South-East Asia into its orbit of influence “by default”. America has to respond. As an early sign of that response, Mr Obama announced in November 2011 that 2,500 US Marines would soon be stationed in Australia. Talks about an increased American military presence in the Philippines began in February this year.

The uncertainty principle

China worries the rest of the world not only because of the scale of its military build-up, but also because of the lack of information about how it might use its new forces and even who is really in charge of them. The American strategic-guidance document spells out the concern. “The growth of China’s military power”, it says, “must be accompanied by greater clarity of its strategic intentions in order to avoid causing friction in the region.”

Officially, China is committed to what it called, in the words of an old slogan, a “peaceful rise”. Its foreign-policy experts stress their commitment to a rules-based multipolar world. They shake their heads in disbelief at suggestions that China sees itself as a “near peer” military competitor with America.

In the South and East China Seas, though, things look different. In the past 18 months, there have been clashes between Chinese vessels and ships from Japan, Vietnam, South Korea and the Philippines over territorial rights in the resource-rich waters. A pugnacious editorial in the state-run Global Times last October gave warning: “If these countries don’t want to change their ways with China, they will need to prepare for the sounds of cannons. We need to be ready for that, as it may be the only way for the disputes in the sea to be resolved.” This was not a government pronouncement, but it seems the censors permit plenty of press freedom when it comes to blowing off nationalistic steam.

Smooth-talking foreign-ministry officials may cringe with embarrassment at Global Times—China’s equivalent of Fox News—but its views are not so far removed from the gung-ho leadership of the rapidly expanding navy. Moreover, in a statement of doctrine published in 2005, the PLA’s Science of Military Strategy did not mince its words. Although “active defence is the essential feature of China’s military strategy,” it said, if “an enemy offends our national interests it means that the enemy has already fired the first shot,” in which case the PLA’s mission is “to do all we can to dominate the enemy by striking first”.

Making things more alarming is a lack of transparency over who really controls the guns and ships. China is unique among great powers in that the PLA is not formally part of the state. It is responsible to the Communist Party, and is run by the party’s Central Military Commission, not the ministry of defence. Although party and government are obviously very close in China, the party is even more opaque, which complicates outsiders’ understanding of where the PLA’s loyalties and priorities lie. A better military-to-military relationship between America and China would cast some light into this dark corner. But the PLA often suspends “mil-mil” relations as a “punishment” whenever tension rises with America over Taiwan. The PLA is also paranoid about what America might gain if the relationship between the two countries’ armed forces went deeper.

The upshot of these various uncertainties is that even if outsiders believe that China’s intentions are largely benign—and it is clear that some of them do not—they can hardly make plans based on that assumption alone. As the influential American think-tank, the Centre for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments (CSBA) points out, the intentions of an authoritarian regime can change very quickly. The nature and size of the capabilities that China has built up also count.

History boys

The build-up has gone in fits and starts. It began in the early 1950s when the Soviet Union was China’s most important ally and arms supplier, but abruptly ceased when Mao Zedong launched his decade-long Cultural Revolution in the mid-1960s. The two countries came close to war over their disputed border and China carried out its first nuclear test. The second phase of modernisation began in the 1980s, under Deng Xiaoping. Deng was seeking to reform the whole country and the army was no exception. But he told the PLA that his priority was the economy; the generals must be patient and live within a budget of less than 1.5% of GDP.

A third phase began in the early 1990s. Shaken by the destructive impact of the West’s high-tech weaponry on the Iraqi army, the PLA realised that its huge ground forces were militarily obsolete. PLA scholars at the Academy of Military Science in Beijing began learning all they could from American think-tanks about the so-called “revolution in military affairs” (RMA), a change in strategy and weaponry made possible by exponentially greater computer-processing power. In a meeting with The Economist at the Academy, General Chen Zhou, the main author of the four most recent defence white papers, said: “We studied RMA exhaustively. Our great hero was Andy Marshall in the Pentagon [the powerful head of the Office of Net Assessment who was known as the Pentagon’s futurist-in-chief]. We translated every word he wrote.”

China’s soldiers come in from the cold

In 1993 the general-secretary of the Communist Party, Jiang Zemin, put RMA at the heart of China’s military strategy. Now, the PLA had to turn itself into a force capable of winning what the strategy called “local wars under high-tech conditions”. Campaigns would be short, decisive and limited in geographic scope and political goals. The big investments would henceforth go to the air force, the navy and the Second Artillery Force, which operates China’s nuclear and conventionally armed missiles.

Further shifts came in 2002 and 2004. High-tech weapons on their own were not enough; what mattered was the ability to knit everything together on the battlefield through what the Chinese called “informatisation” and what is known in the West as “unified C4ISR”. (The four Cs are command, control, communications, and computers; ISR stands for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance; the Pentagon loves its abbreviations).

Just another corner of the network

General Chen describes the period up to 2010 as “laying the foundations of modernised forces”. The next decade should see the roll-out of what is called mechanisation (the deployment of advanced military platforms) and informatisation (bringing them together as a network). The two processes should be completed in terms of equipment, integration and training by 2020. But General Chen reckons China will not achieve full informatisation until well after that. “A major difficulty”, he says, “is that we are still only partially mechanised. We do not always know how to make our investments when technology is both overlapping and leapfrogging.” Whereas the West was able to accomplish its military transformation by taking the two processes in sequence, China is trying to do both together. Still, that has not slowed down big investments which are designed to defeat even technologically advanced foes by making “the best use of our strong points to attack the enemy’s weak points”. In 2010 the CSBA identified the essential military components that China, on current trends, will be able to deploy within ten years. Among them: satellites and reconnaissance drones; thousands of surface-to-surface and anti-ship missiles; more than 60 stealthy conventional submarines and at least six nuclear attack submarines; stealthy manned and unmanned combat aircraft; and space and cyber warfare capabilities. In addition, the navy has to decide whether to make the (extremely expensive) transition to a force dominated by aircraft-carriers, like America. Aircraft-carriers would be an unmistakable declaration of an ambition eventually to project power far from home. Deploying them would also match the expected actions of Japan and India in the near future. China may well have three small carriers within five to ten years, though military analysts think it would take much longer for the Chinese to learn how to use them well.

A new gunboat diplomacy

This promises to be a formidable array of assets. They are, for the most part, “asymmetric”, that is, designed not to match American military power in the western Pacific directly but rather to exploit its vulnerabilities. So, how might they be used?

Taiwan is the main spur for China’s military modernisation. In 1996 America reacted to Chinese ballistic-missile tests carried out near Taiwanese ports by sending two aircraft-carrier groups into the Taiwan Strait. Since 2002 China’s strategy has been largely built around the possibility of a cross-Strait armed conflict in which China’s forces would not only have to overcome opposition from Taiwan but also to deter, delay or defeat an American attempt to intervene. According to recent reports by CSBA and RAND, another American think-tank, China is well on its way to having the means, by 2020, to deter American aircraft-carriers and aircraft from operating within what is known as the “first island chain”—a perimeter running from the Aleutians in the north to Taiwan, the Philippines and Borneo (see map).

In 2005 China passed the Taiwan Anti-Secession Law, which commits it to a military response should Taiwan ever declare independence or even if the government in Beijing thinks all possibility of peaceful unification has been lost. Jia Xiudong of the China Institute of International Studies (the foreign ministry’s main think-tank) says: “The first priority is Taiwan. The mainland is patient, but independence is not the future for Taiwan. China’s military forces should be ready to repel any force of intervention. The US likes to maintain what it calls ‘strategic ambiguity’ over what it would do in the event of a conflict arising from secession. We don’t have any ambiguity. We will use whatever means we have to prevent it happening.”

If Taiwan policy has been the immediate focus of China’s military planning, the sheer breadth of capabilities the country is acquiring gives it other options—and temptations. In 2004 Hu Jintao, China’s president, said the PLA should be able to undertake “new historic missions”. Some of these involve UN peacekeeping. In recent years China has been the biggest contributor of peacekeeping troops among the permanent five members of the Security Council. But the responsibility for most of these new missions has fallen on the navy. In addition to its primary job of denying China’s enemies access to sea lanes, it is increasingly being asked to project power in the neighbourhood and farther afield.

The navy appears to see itself as the guardian of China’s ever-expanding economic interests. These range from supporting the country’s sovereignty claims (for example, its insistence on seeing most of the South China Sea as an exclusive economic zone) to protecting the huge weight of Chinese shipping, preserving the country’s access to energy and raw materials supplies, and safeguarding the soaring numbers of Chinese citizens who work abroad (about 5m today, but expected to rise to 100m by 2020). The navy’s growing fleet of powerful destroyers, stealthy frigates and guided-missile-carrying catamarans enables it to carry out extended “green water” operations (ie, regional, not just coastal tasks). It is also developing longer-range “blue water” capabilities. In early 2009 the navy began anti-piracy patrols off the Gulf of Aden with three ships. Last year, one of those vessels was sent to the Mediterranean to assist in evacuating 35,000 Chinese workers from Libya—an impressive logistical exercise carried out with the Chinese air force.

Just practising

Power grows out of the barrel of a gun

It is hardly surprising that China’s neighbours and the West in general should worry about these developments. The range of forces marshalled against Taiwan plus China’s “A2/AD” potential to push the forces of other countries over the horizon have already eroded the confidence of America’s Asian allies that the guarantor of their security will always be there for them. Mr Obama’s rebalancing towards Asia may go some way towards easing those doubts. America’s allies are also going to have to do more for themselves, including developing their own A2/AD capabilities. But the longer-term trends in defence spending are in China’s favour. China can focus entirely on Asia, whereas America will continue to have global responsibilities. Asian concerns about the dragon will not disappear.

That said, the threat from China should not be exaggerated. There are three limiting factors. First, unlike the former Soviet Union, China has a vital national interest in the stability of the global economic system. Its military leaders constantly stress that the development of what is still only a middle-income country with a lot of very poor people takes precedence over military ambition. The increase in military spending reflects the growth of the economy, rather than an expanding share of national income. For many years China has spent the same proportion of GDP on defence (a bit over 2%, whereas America spends about 4.7%). The real test of China’s willingness to keep military spending constant will come when China’s headlong economic growth starts to slow further. But on past form, China’s leaders will continue to worry more about internal threats to their control than external ones. Last year spending on internal security outstripped military spending for the first time. With a rapidly ageing population, it is also a good bet that meeting the demand for better health care will become a higher priority than maintaining military spending. Like all the other great powers, China faces a choice of guns or walking sticks.

Second, as some pragmatic American policymakers concede, it is not a matter for surprise or shock that a country of China’s importance and history should have a sense of its place in the world and want armed forces which reflect that. Indeed, the West is occasionally contradictory about Chinese power, both fretting about it and asking China to accept greater responsibility for global order. As General Yao Yunzhu of the Academy of Military Science says: “We are criticised if we do more and criticised if we do less. The West should decide what it wants. The international military order is US-led—NATO and Asian bilateral alliances—there is nothing like the WTO for China to get into.”

Third, the PLA may not be quite as formidable as it seems on paper. China’s military technology has suffered from the Western arms embargo imposed after the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989. It struggles to produce high-performance jet engines, for example. Western defence firms believe that is why they are often on the receiving end of cyber-attacks that appear to come from China. China’s defence industry may be improving but it remains scattered, inefficient and over-dependent on high-tech imports from Russia, which is happy to sell the same stuff to China’s local rivals, India and Vietnam. The PLA also has little recent combat experience. The last time it fought a real enemy was in the war against Vietnam in 1979, when it got a bloody nose. In contrast, a decade of conflict has honed American forces to a new pitch of professionalism. There must be some doubt that the PLA could put into practice the complex joint operations it is being increasingly called upon to perform.

General Yao says the gap between American and Chinese forces is “at least 30, maybe 50, years”. “China”, she says, “has no need to be a military peer of the US. But perhaps by the time we do become a peer competitor the leadership of both countries will have the wisdom to deal with the problem.” The global security of the next few decades will depend on her hope being realised.

Correction: The following definitions have been changed in the main table of this article: “Main battle tanks” to “Modern main battle tanks”; “Armoured infantry vehicles” to “Armoured infantry fighting vehicles”; “Intercontinental ballistic missiles” to “Intercontinental ballistic missile launchers”; “Transport helicopters” to “Heavy/medium transport helicopters”; “Transport aircraft”  to “Heavy/medium transport aircraft”; “Tanker and multi-role aircraft” to “Tanker aircraft”. Additionally, the data are from 2011 not 2010 as originally reported. These changes were made on 6th April 2012.

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