Chinese Naval Exercise near Nansei Islands

Naval Parade off Qingdao, xinwen lianbo, CCTV News, April 23, 2009

Naval Parade off Qingdao, xinwen lianbo, CCTV News, April 23, 2009

Two Japanese Maritime Self Defense Force (MSDF) destroyers, the Choukai and Suzunami, unexpectedly encountered several Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) warships, including a pair of submarines and eight destroyers, approximately 140 kilometers west-southwest of Okinawa near the Nansei (Ryukyu) Islands in mid-April, on their way from the East China Sea to the Western Pacific, writes the Asia Times. Anti-submarine warfare, underway refueling and helicopter flight training were reportedly some of the exercises.

Richard Fisher, senior fellow on Asian military affairs with the International Assessment and Strategy Center, describes the PLAN exercise as “a significant step”. “Absent a sustained investment by the US and Japan in space defenses, naval energy weapons to counter ASBMs, plus their own, and, fifth and sixth generation fighters for air force and naval deployment, they will lose maritime dominance in the Western Pacific by the mid-2020s.” [..] “These investments are less likely as long as Washington and Tokyo remain transfixed by the mirage that Beijing will become their ‘pivotal partner’ in meeting future challenges, they simply want to ignore the fact that it is China which is the challenge.” Abraham Denmark, Center for a New American Security, believes it would be important “to retain a military hedge against the possibility that China could become confrontational and militarily aggressive”, and that the PLA navy’s primary tasks had long been defending the mainland and operations related to a Taiwan contingency, which would primarily involve anti-access/area denial operations in the Western Pacific.

Chinese defense ministry spokesman Huang Leiping (黄雪平) said on Friday that naval exercises in international waters were common practice, and the countries concerned shouldn’t make arbitrary assumptions (主观臆断) and improper speculations (妄加猜测). To organize exercises in international waters corresponded with international law and was conducted by various other countries, too.

The Southern Metropolis article quoting Huang refers to the Nansei or Ryukyu Islands as Gonggu Dao (宫古岛), apparently next to the Gonggu Strait.

____________

Update (May 30, 2010):
Another Japan-China confrontation at sea, Japan Security Watch, May 8, 2010

Related
Hermit: the Stupid Little Mermaid, March 12, 2009

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