China is currently preparing its military for an eventual war with Japan. This was the assessment of a top U.S. Navy analyst who claimed the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) is conducting military training exercises on what may eventually be a military take-over of the Senkaku Islands. According to the U.S. Pacific Fleet Capt. James Fannell who is the deputy chief of staff of intelligence and operations, “We witnessed the [Chinese] massive amphibious and cross-military region enterprise.”
It was believed that the PLA was given a new directive for the implementation of a short and swift war to destroy Japanese forces in the East China Sea. This will eventually pave the way for the occupation of the Senkakus or the Ryukyu islands, added Capt. Fannell. This assertion was also based on images released by Chinese authorities of the trainings indicating an island invasion.
As reported in the U.S. Navy’s official news organ the U.S. Naval Institute News, Fannell said, “There is growing concern that China’s pattern of behavior in the South China Sea reflects an incremental effort by China to assert control of the area contained in the so-called 9-dash line despite the objections of its neighbors, and despite the lack of any explanation or apparent basis under international law.”
This opinion was shared by retired U.S. Army Lt. Col. Ralph Peters who said that China has a practice of intimidating its neighbors by way of military drills. According to Peters, they did this tactic for decades with Taiwan and this latest posturing by the Chinese military with regard to Japan may be in the same level.
Based on the information gathered by IHS Janes, the global information forecaster, the budget allocated by China for its military will increase from $139.2 billion in 2013 to $148 billion for 2014. This also means that China by the end of the year will have spent more on defense than France, Germany and Britain combined.
The military trainings were observed in October 2013 around the same time as China and Japan were engaging in war of words over who owns the Senkaku Islands. Aside from the verbal tussles, China was also seen sending its ships and aircrafts to cross Japanese lines around the disputed islands. This prompted the Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to issue an order to shoot down intruders in case they ignore warnings to leave Japanese territories. The Chinese Defense Ministry representative Geng Yansheng however said that if this shooting happened, it will mean an act of provocation and China will strike back too.
And on November 23, 2013, China declared the Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) over portions of the East China Sea which was implemented to everybody’s surprise. This declaration demands that all civilian or military aircrafts, flying over the zone must identify themselves and follow the instructions of the Chinese authorities. Violators will receive “emergency measures” if instructions were not heeded. The ADIZ however, was not being recognized by Japan and the U.S. as binding.
Historically, Senkaku Islands are within the territory of Japan since 1895 and they call these as the Diaoyu Islands. When World War II ended, the U.S. took control of the islands including the Ryukyu Islands but returned the control of these islands to Japan in 1972. Later the islands came under private ownership but in April 2012 the Japanese government purchased the islands back.
This claim on the islands by China is one of the other island claims which also extend down to the South China Sea which overlaps with the claims of her neighbors like the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, and Brunei. The contested group of islands include: Spratly, Paracel, Pratas, Macclesfield Bank and the Scarborough Shoal.
This most recent observations on China’s military activities are in contrast with the latest efforts of the U.S. to establish closer military ties with the country. As reported by Rear Admiral James Foggo that there was a successful meeting between the PLA and U.S. Navy officials.
A navy official claims that China is preparing its military for an eventual war with Japan. Observers note that one thing is certain, this activity is not helping promote peace in the region.
By Roberto I. Belda