Tuesday, April 13, 2010

North Sea Fleet conducts exercise off the Malacca Strait

They stopped by Okinawa to say hello, but someone forgot to remind the PLAN to call ahead before dropping by with 3 destroyers (DDG 115, DDG137, DDG139), 5 frigates and 2 subs. Now the Japanese government is all excited. Anyway, the PLA daily write-up can be found (here)

The real news here is that the North Sea Fleet is conducting a military exercise off the Malacca Strait.
A large Chinese fleet of 8 destroyers and 2 subs pass through Okinawa

LEAD: Chinese submarines, destroyers spotted in high seas near Okinawa Japan to file protest

Two Chinese submarines and eight destroyers were spotted by the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force on Saturday in the high seas between the main island of Okinawa and Miyako Island in the southernmost prefecture, Defense Minister Toshimi Kitazawa said Tuesday.

The defense chief said the Chinese submarines and destroyers were navigating southeastward, adding that Tokyo has never before confirmed such a large number of Chinese vessels near Japan. "We will investigate whether (China) has any intention against our nation" by dispatching the vessels, Kitazawa said.

The Joint Staff Office of the Self-Defense Forces later said that Chinese submarines were seen on the sea surface near Japan for the first time and that Beijing had not notified Tokyo of the fleet navigation in the East China Sea toward the Pacific Ocean.

Japan seeks answers over Chinese warships
By Mure Dickie in Tokyo


Published: April 13 2010 12:07 | Last updated: April 13 2010 12:07

Japan’s defence minister on Tuesday called for efforts to establish the intentions of an extraordinarily large group of about 10 Chinese warships and submarines that passed through international waters near Okinawa last weekend.

The comments by Toshimi Kitazawa, defence minister, highlight concerns in the Japanese defence establishment about China’s rapidly growing naval power and its implications for long-standing disputes over maritime territory and resources between East Asia’s premier powers.

Beijing’s naval harassment rouses US - Mar-26China plans to expand navy - Apr-16A Japanese official said the passage of the Chinese naval vessels followed an “extremely dangerous” incident last week in which a ship-based Chinese helicopter came within 90 metres of a Japanese destroyer. Tokyo had protested about the manoeuvre “through diplomatic channels”, the official said.

Mr Kitazawa acknowledged that the Chinese vessels, which included submarines, destroyers and frigates, had remained within international waters, but said the “unprecedented” nature of the action required further investigation.

A defence official said the number of Chinese vessels passing together through the gap between Japan’s southern Okinawa and Miyako islands had grown steadily in recent years, from four during one passage in 2008, to five on another occasion in 2009 and six during yet another last month.

“I want to look carefully into whether (the most recent passage) was directed against our nation and then consider how to respond,” Mr Kitazawa said.

Many in Japan’s defence establishment have long been concerned about the increasingly successful efforts of China’s People’s Liberation Army Navy to transform itself from a weak coastal defence force into a genuine blue water navy.

Japan and China dispute sovereignty over a number of islands in the East China Sea and have hugely overlapping economic claims to its potentially vast gas resources, and some Japanese officials fret that Beijing’s increasing power raises the risk of confrontation in the area.

The passage of the Chinese vessels also underscores the strategic location of Okinawa, which has since the second world war been host to some of the most important US military bases in the region but which has recently become a source of friction between Tokyo and Washington.

Japan’s new Democratic party-led government has upset the US by seeking to revise a long-standing deal on the relocation of a US Marine air base within Okinawa.

While leading members of the DPJ government are keen to try to move the base off Okinawa, others say that retaining a strong Marine presence on the island is vital to counter China’s growing power.
Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2010.

From today's CCTV report:

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