Japan from the inside out

Complaining is irrational

Posted by ampontan on Thursday, November 8, 2012

The following article appeared in segments on Searchina, a Japanese-language website for articles originating in China. Here are two in English. The title is “Japan must get accustomed to the Chinese Navy’s Blue Water Training”.

In recent years, there is a lot of comment from Japan every time China’s naval vessels engage in blue water training exercises. Curiosity seekers appear who try to elicit the interest of the public. Why this degree of sensitivity on their part to the proper and rational training and navigational activities of the Chinese navy? I was moved to examine their emotions and motivations.

China possesses vast oceanic territory and is devoting greater resources to building a navy. It is necessary for China to conduct training of this sort to ensure national maritime safety and security. As early as 1986, the Chinese navy dispatched a formation of ships to the western Pacific, where they conducted joint operations and drills. Recently, it has been sent to the distant Gulf of Aden, off the coast of Somalia, for patrols and escort. In conjunction with the expanded duties of the army, blue water training is a normal type of training for the Chinese navy. Providing sailors with many opportunities to battle the rough seas enables the country to build a powerful navy that will protect the safety of the nation and world peace.

The immense Pacific Ocean is the site for naval training for many countries in the Asia-Pacific region, and China is no exception. The Miyako Strait and the Osumi Strait are the course that must be taken when the Chinese navy heads for the western Pacific. It is in conformity with the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea and other international laws and practices for naval vessels to pass through these waters on the way to exercises in the western Pacific.

When Japan criticizes and complains about the proper and rational maritime activities of the Chinese navy, it is an act stemming from a persecution complex to deliberately cause problems.

The Japanese media is also critical because China did not give advance notice of the passage, turning its back on the crisis management system. But there is no crisis management system in place between the Chinese and Japanese defense establishments, nor is there a common recognition that it should give notice in those instances. From the perspective of both international law and bilateral relations, China has the right to freely navigate these waters, and it has no obligation to inform Japan of its navigational plans.

The truly interesting point is that the Japanese Self-Defense Forces mobilized their naval and air forces to follow and monitor the training exercises at close range. They engaged in dangerous activities that hindered the proper navigation of Chinese ships. Behavior of this sort can lead to accidents at sea or in the air. It is bound to have a large impact on bilateral trust, and is injurious to peace and security in the region.

…The Cold War has been over for more than 20 years. Japan is criticizing and hindering the normal blue water training of the Chinese navy for no reason, and is trying to bottle China up inside the “first island chain”. This misfortune is in fact due to Cold War thinking.

People get carried away with themselves and exaggerate the Chinese blue water drills because there is actually too little deep water activity by the Chinese navy…People of that sort must recover their psychological equilibrium, get accustomed to this, and maintain their composure.

Note again the characteristic Chinese use of the words “proper”, “correct”, and “rational” to describe their positions and activities.

Now here’s the view of a retired U.S. naval intelligence officer:

China’s navy, meanwhile, conducted its largest long-range deployment to date in March and April 2010. This deployment involved a task force of 10 ships and submarines making passage – twice – between the Japanese islands of Okinawa and Miyako, during which Chinese helicopters made close approaches to the Japanese destroyers sent to monitor their activities. While the broad strait between the Japanese islands – the Miyako Strait – is an international waterway through which commercial shipping passes routinely, the Chinese navy’s use of it is unprecedented and obviously provocative. The Chinese task force proceeded to the South China Sea and performed exercises, including naval bombing simulations, in the Spratly Islands and near the Strait of Malacca.


… China does just as much as she thinks she can get away with, taking action that Japan is bound to find objectionable but that falls short of a casus belli… China has long asserted national prerogatives over her contiguous waters – waters, that is, outside the internationally-recognized 12-nautical-mile territorial limit – that go well beyond what other maritime powers like the US, Japan, Australia, Russia, and Britain recognize. Those asserted prerogatives have been the basis of Chinese objections to the passage of US naval ships through the waters in question. They have also been the basis of China’s strong-arming of Vietnam in the international waters of the South China Sea. China’s intentions with maritime superiority would not be to maintain the freedom-of-navigation regime the US enforces; what Beijing would do is constrain, limit, and extort maritime traffic. This is likely to begin happening very shortly with the “fishery patrols” in the South China Sea.

And it’s already happening with more than fishery patrols near the Senkakus, as Chinese naval vessels are telling the Japanese Coast Guard to leave “its territorial waters”.

Those with the eyes to see know what’s coming. What they don’t know is when it will come.

Americans in particular have been so complacent as to believe that exposure to Western influences, in part through Chinese young people studying at American universities, would expedite the liberalization of the country. It hasn’t. All it has done is to give them a better understanding of how to manipulate the atmospherics. The Searchina article at the top is one example, and the television report that follows is another. It’s from CCTV, China’s primary television broadcaster.

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