Wednesday, April 28, 2010

He says she says

two views regarding the recent "helicopter incident"
Chinese chopper 'ignored orders' / Insubordination within navy could heighten possibility of accidents

The Yomiuri Shimbun

A Chinese Navy helicopter likely was ignoring orders from its own mother ship when it flew within 100 meters of a Maritime Self-Defense Force destroyer on April 8, according to Defense Ministry sources.

The pilot's actions suggest that orders may not be rigorously followed within the Chinese Navy, and Defense Ministry officials are concerned that such insubordination could increase the possibility of accidents.

According to the sources, the incident occurred when the Chinese fleet was engaged in training exercises from April 7 to Friday. A total of 10 warships and submarines, including guided missile destroyers, traveled from the East China Sea through the Okinawa islands to waters off Okinotorishima island, the southernmost point in Japan, in the western Pacific Ocean.

The MSDF sent two destroyers and a P-3C surveillance aircraft to monitor the activities of the fleet.

On the morning of April 8, the carrier-based helicopter approached an MSDF destroyer when the fleet was practicing the takeoff and landing of its helicopters in the central area of the East China Sea.

When the helicopter took off from a guided missile destroyer, it was about 4,000 meters away from the MSDF destroyer Suzunami. As the chopper flew closer to the Suzunami, the destroyer ordered it several times by radio not to fly any closer to the Japanese destroyers.

However, the helicopter ignored the orders and continued toward the Suzunami. Ultimately the helicopter was only about 90 meters away from the Suzunami at a height of about 30 meters, lower than the destroyer's mast.

On Wednesday, a Chinese Navy helicopter approached an MSDF destroyer south of the Okinawa Island. This time, the helicopter circled around the destroyer Asayuki twice.

A senior Defense Ministry official said it is possible the helicopter ignored the instructions of its fleet in the second case as well.

"If a Chinese helicopter goes out of control and collides with one of our destroyers, anti-Japanese sentiment will flare up in China. We need to establish rules to prevent accidents on the open sea," the official said.
(Apr. 27, 2010)

China defends naval fly-bys near Japan

* Source: Global Times
* [01:33 April 28 2010]

By Li Jing

Beijing's new ambassador to Tokyo rejected a Japanese protest Tuesday over Chinese military helicopters twice making fly-bys near Japanese naval destroyers, blaming Japan for the row, AFP reported Tuesday.

The helicopter fly-bys took place near Japan's Okinawa island this month - on April 9 and 21 - when Japanese naval ships spotted and followed the largest Chinese flotilla of warships so far to sail between Japanese islands.

Cheng Yonghua, the new ambassador, said China's naval drills in the waters off Japan are conducted "in accordance with international rules," adding that China is devoted to boosting transparency regarding its military buildup by releasing a defense white paper and through other means, according to the Kyodo News Agency.

"How would the Japanese people feel if there was a Japanese drill and the Japanese left port and were then annoyingly chased by Chinese destroyers? That breaches the spirit of mutual understanding and mutual trust," AFP quoted Cheng as saying at the Japan National Press Club.

Tokyo has lodged a protest through diplomatic channels over what it considered "dangerous" approaches by Chinese vessel-borne helicopters toward Japanese destroyers, which were said to be deployed for surveillance of Chinese vessels.

According to Kyodo, though China has explained to Japan that the approaches were a "necessary defense measure" in response to Japanese surveillance activities, Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada said Friday that he was "not convinced" by the explanation.

"Japan is overreacting on this issue," Peng Guangqian, an expert at the PLA Academy of Military Science, told the Global Times. "Those Chinese Navy vessels were carrying out normal military drills on the high seas rather than other locations. Japan needs to maintain a proper stance toward other countries' normal military exercises held there."

"This incident also indicates that China and Japan have not set up firm mutual trust. Both sides need to be devoted to strengthening the bilateral relationship further in a bid to decrease unnecessary misunderstandings and conflicts," Peng added.

Cheng was also asked to comment on an ongoing row between the US and Japan over where to relocate an unpopular US airbase on Okinawa.

"China is not in a position to comment, but the military arrangement between Japan and the US should not be aimed against a third country. … I mean China," the ambassador said, according to AFP.

Agencies contributed to this story

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