CHINA / MILITARY
Chinese warships cross Miyako Strait 'for escort tasks, not response to 4-country exercise’
Published: May 18, 2021 09:09 PM
Warship attached to a naval frigate flotilla under PLA's Southern Theater Command fires its main gun at mock sea targets during a maritime combat training exercise on April 21, 2021. Photo: China Military Online

Warship attached to a naval frigate flotilla under PLA's Southern Theater Command fires its main gun at mock sea targets during a maritime combat training exercise on April 21, 2021. Photo: China Military Online



A group of Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) Navy warships crossed the Miyako Strait on Sunday, forming a routine escort task force heading toward the Gulf of Aden and waters off Somalia, instead of a response to the joint military drill by Japanese, US, French and Australian troops as some Japanese media reports had speculated, analysts said on Tuesday.

The Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force spotted a PLA Navy flotilla consisting of three warships, namely the Type 052D destroyer Nanjing, the Type 054A frigate Yangzhou and the Type 903A comprehensive supply ship Gaoyouhu, which passed through the waters between Okinawa Island and Miyako Island and sailed south toward the Pacific Ocean on Sunday, Japan's Ministry of Defense Joint Staff said in a press release on Monday.

The Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force conducted a joint exercise with the navies of the US, France and Australia from May 11 to May 17 in the East China Sea, and the Japanese Ministry of Defense is analyzing the purpose of the Chinese naval activity, the Yomiuri Shimbun daily reported on Monday.

However, Chinese military observers found that the PLA Navy had previously announced the missions of the flotilla, which had nothing to do with the four-country exercise.

The 38th escort task force of the PLA Navy, consisting of the three specified vessels, left Zhoushan, East China's Zhejiang Province on Saturday for the Gulf of Aden and waters off Somalia to perform a civilian ship escort mission, the PLA Navy's official Weibo account said on the day.

From a navigational point of view, it is very normal for vessels departing from Zhoushan to sail through the Miyako Strait on their way to the Arabian Sea, and the PLA Navy's escort missions to the Gulf of Aden and waters off Somalia are routine, a Beijing-based military expert told the Global Times on Tuesday, requesting anonymity.

Japanese media have ulterior motives in hyping this regular escort mission as being related to the four-country exercise, which is designed to target China's rightful moves in the East and South China seas, including those over the Diaoyu Islands and the island of Taiwan, which are Chinese territories, the expert said.

China does not really need to react to the exercise, since it is only a show that has little military significance, Song Zhongping, a Chinese military affairs expert and TV commentator, told the Global Times.

The hype by Japanese media organizations only reveals their guilty conscience for their confrontational cold war mindset against China, analysts said.


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