Sun, Mar 10, 2013 - Page 9 News List

Chinese naval strategy to ‘wear out’ Japan Coast Guard in disputed waters

As tensions remain high in the East China Sea, experts warn that China’s multi-faceted naval strategy, designed to wear down the Japanese, could be a dangerous game, as one wrong move or misunderstanding could lead to a major conflict

By David Lague  /  Reuters , HONG KONG

“We will stick to the road of peaceful development, but will never give up our legitimate rights and will never sacrifice our national core interests,” he was reported to have said.

Beijing continues to boost its military firepower. Chinese shipyards last week delivered a new, stealth frigate to the navy, the official PLA Daily newspaper wrote.

The radar evading type-056 frigate would be introduced in large numbers as the first step in a systematic upgrade of navy hardware, the paper said.

JAPAN WILL NOT BUCKLE

Despite the intense military and diplomatic pressure, the Japanese government shows no sign of wilting.

“We simply cannot tolerate any challenge now and in the future,” Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said recently in Washington.

“No nation should make any miscalculation or underestimate the firmness of our resolve,” he added.

Still, military analysts said Japanese forces must continue to match China’s patrols and exercises.

In a paper prepared for an Australian military think tank last year, an influential Japanese military strategist, retired vice admiral Yoji Koda, said Chinese naval forces sailing around the Japanese islands “will surely meet intensive surveillance and continuous tracking” from Japan and its US allies.

Some military analysts suggest Beijing’s continuous deployments around the Diaoyutais are also part of a wider policy of enhancing its claims over a number of disputed territories in the East China Sea and South China Sea.

“If Beijing starts policing territory it claims as its own, and if rival claimants can’t push back effectively, it will start looking like the rightful sovereign over that territory,” Holmes said.

However, Holmes added that Japan poses a much stiffer challenge for Beijing than smaller nations like the Philippines which also has overlapping territorial claims with China.

While smaller in raw numbers than the PLA navy, the highly trained Japanese Navy is generally regarded as the most powerful in Asia with state-of-the art ships, submarines and aircraft. It also has a security alliance with the US that obliges Washington to intervene if Japan is attacked.

Other military experts suggest Beijing has decided to intensify its operations against Japan, a nation whose wartime aggression is remembered across Asia, because confrontations with smaller neighbors in recent years had led to a region-wide diplomatic backlash.

“The Senkaku, Diaoyu hoopla of late is triggered by China’s desire to extricate itself from total regional isolation caused by China’s expansive territorial claims against virtually all of its maritime neighbors,” said Yu Maochun, an expert on the PLA at the Annapolis, Maryland, US Naval Academy.

Additional reporting by Kiyoshi Takenaka in Tokyo

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