Chinese Submarines, Destroyers Spotted in High Seas near Okinawa
Two Chinese submarines and eight destroyers were spotted by the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force on Saturday in the high seas between the main island of Okinawa and Miyako Island in the southernmost prefecture, Defense Minister Toshimi Kitazawa said Tuesday. The defense chief said the Chinese submarines and destroyers were navigating southeastward, adding that Tokyo has never before confirmed such a large number of Chinese vessels near Japan. "We will investigate whether (China) has any intention against our nation" by dispatching the vessels, Kitazawa said. The Joint Staff Office of the Self-Defense Forces later said that Chinese submarines were seen on the sea surface near Japan for the first time and that Beijing had not notified Tokyo of the fleet navigation in the East China Sea toward the Pacific Ocean.
PLA showing its might at naval war games in blue waters
Chinese military war games in South China Sea this weekend deploying naval warships in an "unprecedented scale" showed Beijing's capability to emerge as full-fledged blue water navy, military analysts said.
"People's Liberation Army's navy warships are this weekend exercising southeast of Japan's strategic offshore islands - part of a recent series of Chinese naval war games in East Asia
unprecedented in their reach and scope," Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post reported.
"After two decades of double-digit annual increases in military spending, the PLA is rapidly proving it is capable of things once seen as only theoretically possible as it strives to develop a full blue water navy," it said.
Chinese and India naval forces were regarded as the two emerging blue water navies of the region. PLA is numerically strong in terms of fleet and forces but unlike its Indian counterpart yet to acquire aircraft carriers.
PLA's East Sea Fleet flotilla of crack Sovremenny class destroyers, frigates and submarines which are taking part in the games steamed through the so-called first island chain - the US-dominated stronghold that links Japan to Taiwan and Philippines and practised anti-submarine manoeuvres.
The ships moved out through the Miyako Strait just days after a North Sea Fleet flotilla sailed in the other direction on its return from a "confrontation exercise" deep in the disputed South China Sea, the Post said.
That flotilla, which comprised destroyers, frigates and auxiliary ships and had air cover, sailed some 19 days and covered 6,000 nautical miles. It included psychological tests for crew exposed to tough conditions. The ships traversed the Bashi Strait between the Philippines and Taiwan.
Recently, naval aviators have been running extensive long-range exercises with command planes, bombers and attack aircraft from several different bases in the Nanjing and Guangzhou military regions.
The manoeuvres have featured stealth and night flying, radar-jamming electronic warfare and multiple mid-air refuellings, as well as simulated bombing raids in the South China Sea, the report said.
Gary Li, a PLA specialist at the London-based Institute of International and Strategic Studies, said the games are highly significant as they shows a great deal about China's capabilities and emerging strategies.
"We've seen annual exercises at this time, but nothing at all like this... We are seeing greatly improved co-ordination and communication and a great deal of flexibility," he said.
"It must send a very clear message to the region that it should be prepared to see a China unafraid to really test its reach and move into new areas," the Post quoted him as saying.
Japanese officials were quick to express concern after spotting two submarines and eight ships steaming 140 kilometres southwest of Okinawa last weekend.
"Such a situation has not happened before and we will investigate this, including whether (China has) any intentions against our country," said Japanese Defence Minister Toshimi Kitazawa.
Other Japanese defence officials acknowledged that China had not violated international law with its movements - a fact highlighted in a brief statement from the Ministry of National Defence in Beijing early this week.
It said a naval flotilla in the East China Sea and waters southeast of Japan’s Miyako Island were on routine training.
"Other parties should not speculate (about) the flotilla's intentions since training in international waters are an international practice," the People's Daily reported the statement as saying.
The extensive operations in the area of the disputed Spratly and Paracel islands in the South China Sea have alarmed Vietnam.
The North Sea Fleet ships stopped at a Chinese base and early warning radar station at Fiery Cross reef, the site of an earlier sea battle between Chinese and Vietnamese ships.
Vietnam, like China, claims all the islands as its own. Malaysia, Brunei and the Philippines claim parts of the Spratlys chain.
The exercises lit up radars in the region as US, Japanese, Taiwanese and Vietnamese forces are closely observing the war games.
"We've never seen anything on this scale before - they are finally showing us they can put it all together. These types of manoeuvres require extensive command and control capabilities, linking various assets in conflict situations - it is all about communication and flexibility," the Post quoted an unnamed Asian defence attache who is monitoring the games as saying.
China envoy says naval chopper fly-by was Japan's fault
TOKYO, April 27 - Beijing's new ambassador to Tokyo on Tuesday rejected a protest over Chinese military helicopters twice making fly-bys close to Japanese naval destroyers, blaming Japan for the row.
The Chinese envoy, Cheng Yonghua, also warned that the US-Japanese security alliance under which the United States operates dozens of bases in Japan, should not target China, saying that "the Cold War structure is over".
The helicopter fly-bys took place near Japan's Okinawa island this month when Japanese naval ships spotted and followed the largest Chinese flotilla of warships so far to sail between Japanese islands.
The Chinese ships did not pass through Japan's territorial waters but their voyage was seen as provocative by many in Japan, which has watched with unease its Asian rival's build-up of military muscle.
Tokyo lodged a protest with Beijing last week after a Chinese naval helicopter flew within 90 metres (300 feet) of one of its naval ships on April 23 in the second such incident this month, Japan's defence ministry said.
But China's ambassador, who took office in late February, Tuesday blamed the tense incident on the Japanese destroyer and patrol aircraft that he said had followed the Chinese flotilla "all the way into the Pacific".
"How would the Japanese people feel if there was a Japanese drill and the Japanese left port and was then annoyingly chased by Chinese destroyers?" Cheng said at the Japan National Press Club.
"That breaches the spirit of mutual understanding and mutual trust."
Between April 7 and 9, a flotilla of 10 Chinese ships, including two submarines, conducted drills in the East China Sea near Okinawa and then sailed on to the Pacific Ocean on April 10, local media reported.
During the press conference, the ambassador was also asked about a row between long-time allies the United States and Japan about where to relocate a locally unpopular US airbase on Okinawa.
"China is not in a position to comment but the military arrangement between Japan and the United States should not be aimed against a third country... I mean China," the ambassador said.
"I have to say a lot of things happened during the Cold War but the Cold War structure is over," he said, adding that the three countries should work together for the prosperity of the world.
Japan and China -- Asia's biggest and second-biggest economies, and chief competitors for resources -- have long been embroiled in territorial disputes in the East China Sea, including areas with rich energy deposits.
Reports on Monday of Japanese plans to soon scour the seabeds in its exclusive economic zone for rare metals that are needed in many high-tech products sparked a quick response in China's state-controlled media.
The China Daily on Tuesday quoted analysts as saying that any unilateral move to exploit resources near disputed islands would likely "trigger a clash".
Chinese ambassador criticizes Japan for 'following' navy vessels
TOKYO (Kyodo) -- Chinese Ambassador to Japan Cheng Yonghua on Tuesday criticized Japan for "following" Chinese navy vessels engaged in military exercises on the high seas after Chinese vessel-borne helicopters approached Japanese destroyers.
"Japanese (Self-Defense Forces') ships and patrol planes followed (Chinese vessels) for quite a long time...I think such a thing would be a betrayal of mutual trust," the ambassador told a press conference in Tokyo, speaking in Japanese.
The ambassador also said that China's naval drills in waters off Japan are conducted "in accordance with international rules" and his country is working to boost transparency regarding its military buildup by releasing a defense white paper and through other means.
Tokyo has lodged a protest through diplomatic channels over what it sees as "dangerous" approaches by Chinese vessel-borne helicopters toward Japanese destroyers, which were deployed for surveillance of Chinese vessels.
The incidents took place on April 8 and April 21, when the vessels were sailing in the East China Sea.
While China has explained to Japan that the approaches were a "necessary defense measure" in response to Japanese surveillance activities, Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada said Friday that he was "not convinced" by the explanation.
(TibetanReview.net, May14, 2010) After having buzzed Japanese destroyers twice in the East China Sea within the month, and being protested against for it, China has now expressed strong displeasure when Japan's Maritime Self-Defence Force recently monitored its navy fleet off the Japanese coast.
"While there are various neighbouring countries around China, only the Japanese Self-Defence Force vessels hounded (the Chinese ships) from the beginning," the Kyodo news service May 12 quoted the Chinese Ambassador to Japan Cheng Yonghua as saying at a lecture hosted by it in Tokyo.
But Japan has justified its action. "Vessels are free to sail on high seas and in any country's exclusive economic zone, and there is no legal problem in watching (another country's military) training," the report quoted Japanese Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada as saying at a news conference. "Under international law, there is nothing wrong with Chinese vessels, including military ones, entering even Japan's economic exclusive zone."
Meanwhile, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao had said May 12 that Sino-Japanese relations were continuously improving and developing. "This lays an important political foundation for the two sides to jointly cope with the international financial crisis and increase cooperation," China’s official Xinhua news agency May 12 quoted Wen as saying when meeting with a delegation of the Japan Business Federation. He hoped the businesses from the two countries would increase cooperation in energy saving, environmental protection and new energies.
The federation groups most of Japan's leading companies, industrial associations and regional economic organizations, the report said.