China must counter Japan in S.China Sea

Source:Global Times Published: 2016/9/17 23:53:39

Japanese Minister of Defense Tomomi Inada revealed on September 15 during a visit to the US that Japanese Self-Defense Forces will patrol the South China Sea with the US navy, saying Japan will increase presence in the region through participation in military drills and aid to relevant countries.

The US has been actively inviting Japan, Australia and the Philippines to join its South China Sea patrols, but Australia and the Philippines have so far adopted a prudent approach. Sun Jianguo, deputy chief of the Joint Staff Department of China's Central Military Commission, said in June that China will not turn a blind eye to possible "joint patrol" of South China Sea by Japan and the US. Inada's latest remarks challenges China's bottom line.

The moment Tokyo decides to send warships to the South China Sea, the efforts by both China and Japan to improve bilateral relations will become futile. The situation in the South China Sea, which just began to cool down, will be disturbed due to the waves splashed by the joint patrol by the two outside countries. China has no other choice but to take countermeasures.

The joint patrol, once it begins, is the "gunboat policy" of the 21st Century against China. China should resolutely begin military deployment on its expanded Nansha Islands to balance the situation, and should notify ASEAN countries beforehand to allow the international society to know the cause of the increased tension.

If the joint patrol intensifies or involves more countries and severely disturbs regional order, China should then declare a South China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone. By then, China will have a system of a cluster of militarized islands and air defense identification zones to counter US and Japanese warships, which could become China's strategic progress.

Japanese naval ships should be the major target of China. Chinese warplanes may take sophisticated actions like low altitude flyby against the ships to pressure Japan.

China should also increase pressure on Japan at the Diaoyu Islands and significantly increase frequency of patrols by coast guard ships. Tokyo is currently the most enthusiastic side in hyping up tension in the South China Sea. It intends to curb China in the South China Sea, hoping to create space for itself in the East China Sea.

Conflicts between China and Japan have centered over historical issues and the Diaoyu Islands, but Japan has opened a new front, which will only aggravate the feud.

China-Japan conflict is not isolated, as Japan and the US stand by each other in a complicated strategic game. China already has an economy that is twice as large as Japan's and is a nuclear power, which makes Japan only a minor player in the game of China-US strategic contention.

Posted in: Editorial

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