The joint exercise involving the PLA Navy and civilian law enforcement ships conducted Friday in the East China Sea came as a surprise for Japanese media, which believe the move is due to the deteriorating situation between the two countries over Japan's "nationalization" of the Diaoyu Islands.
There is no need to object to the speculation by Japanese media. The exercise has sent a clear message to the outside world, that China is ready to use naval force in maritime conflicts.
The country lacks experience in law enforcement on the sea, however, the odds of friction during maritime law enforcement incidents has been on the increase.
China is not interested in flexing its muscles on the sea while it is preoccupied with economic development. For years, it has been, and still will be, showing restraint during frictions on its borders. But this does not mean China "fears" Japan, Vietnam or the Philippines.
This time the drill involved the navy. Next time it may well expand to missile forces in a bid to increase the level of deterrence and the range.
The frequent territorial conflicts in recent years have disrupted China's previous policy that insisted on "putting aside disputes for the time being." The government has learned to launch "counter measures" one after another.
The outside world, as well as ourselves, have been adapting to a "tougher" China that has become more resolute in safeguarding its sovereignty and interests. Some predicted this change would ruin the hard-won international situation after China's reform and opening-up process over the past few decades. The prediction did not come true.
The country will only become more skillful in dealing with more provocations. What's more, the Chinese people have increasingly begun to think that some countries have been underestimating the consequences of angering China, and China needs to teach them a lesson. This growing public sentiment may pressure the government to change its diplomatic policies.
Chinese people believe there is unlikely to be any major war in the Asia-Pacific region, because China has no intention of starting one, nor will the US, we believe. A conflict in this area would be a brief brawl, in which the weaker country is more likely to suffer.
China, the most powerful country in this region, has in the past been the strongest voice urging parties to "set aside disputes." The Philippines, Vietnam and Japan, on the contrary, were more bellicose. This is not normal.
Japan has to realize the fact that it has always been a small country compared to China, and in the future it will still only be another Vietnam or Philippines. It is better for Japan to show some respect, or it is asking for trouble.