CHINA / MILITARY
Drill by PLA warships in Pacific via Osumi Strait 'indicates far sea capability boost, warning to Japan'
Published: Jun 02, 2021 08:16 PM
A naval fleet comprised of the guided-missile destroyers Ningbo (Hull 139) and <em>Taiyuan</em> (Hull 131), as well as the guided-missile frigate Nantong (Hull 601), steams in astern formation in waters of the East China Sea during a maritime training drill in late January, 2021. Photo:China Military Online

A naval fleet comprised of the guided-missile destroyers Ningbo (Hull 139) and Taiyuan (Hull 131), as well as the guided-missile frigate Nantong (Hull 601), steams in astern formation in waters of the East China Sea during a maritime training drill in late January, 2021. Photo:China Military Online



A Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) Navy flotilla reportedly entered the Pacific Ocean for exercises via the Osumi Strait on Monday, a move experts said on Wednesday was normal and an indication of the increasing far sea operational capability of the PLA Navy.

PLA warships have crossed at least three different straits near Japan this year for drills, observers said, noting that while these transits are routine, they could also be interpreted as warnings to Japan, which has been acting hostile toward China by hyping topics like the Diaoyu Islands and the Taiwan question, and joining military exercises with other Western countries targeting China.

The Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force spotted a PLA Navy flotilla consisting of three warships, namely the Type 052D guided missile destroyer Taiyuan, the Type 054A guided missile frigate Xiangtan and the Type 903A comprehensive supply ship Chaohu, which passed through the Osumi Strait and sailed toward the Pacific Ocean on Monday, Japan's Ministry of Defense Joint Staff said in a press release on Tuesday.

With Monday's Osumi Strait transit, PLA warships have made transits through at least three straits near Japan several times this year. Other transits include the Tsushima Strait and Miyako Strait, a Chinese military expert who asked for anonymity told the Global Times on Wednesday.

These operations are normal and reflect the PLA Navy's increasing far sea operational capability, as the service aims to become a blue-water navy while also sending a warning to Japan on its recent hostility toward China, the expert said. The straits in question are all international waters, and no Japanese territorial waters or airspace were violated, the expert added.

On Saturday, Japan's helicopter carrier Ise completed a four-day joint exercise with the USS Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier in waters east of Okinawa, Japanese media reported on Sunday. Japan also held joint exercises with the US, France and Australia in the East China Sea, with analysts saying the moves aimed to contain China and again hype topics like the Diaoyu Islands and the Taiwan question.

PLA warships' frequent activities around Japan are routine training exercises that don't target any country. They aim to boost combat capability, which is the most important thing, Song Zhongping, a Chinese military expert and TV commentator, told the Global Times on Wednesday.

But if a country shows malicious intentions against China, it is also natural that the Chinese military would see it as an imaginary opponent in exercises, Song said.


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