US has no plans to defend Diaoyu islands with Japan
Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying. (Photo/CNS)
Pentagon spokesman LT Col Jeff Pool said the United States does not have a joint operation plan with Japan to defend the disputed Diaoyu (Senkaku or Diaoyutai) islands from a potential Chinese attack, reports the state-run China News Service.
The spokeman made the comments during a press conference held in Washington DC on Nov. 1, after being asked to discuss whether the United States would support Japan against a People's Liberation Army assault over the islands.
Tokyo-based Kyodo News reported on Sep. 12 that the US reaffirmed its support for Japan over the islands during a meeting between William Burns, the US deputy secretary of state, and Natsuo Yamaguchi, a member of Japanese House of Councillors in Washington in September. At the meeting, Burns suggested that the islands are covered within the US-Japan Security Treaty, the Kyodo News said.
However, Pool dismissed the Japanese report and emphasized that it is not the policy of the US government to take any side regarding territorial disputes between China and Japan. He added that the United States instead encourages both sides to seek a peaceful solution. Echoing Pool, US state department spokeswoman Jen Psaki also said that the United States takes no position on the sovereignty issue over the islands.
Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said that she received similar clarifications from the US government during the press conference held on Nov. 1. There are currently no plans for the US military to support the Japan Self Defense Force in a military confrontation over the Diaoyu islands. However, the United States is obligated to defend the islands if attacked by China as they are covered by the US-Japan Security Treaty, sources said.
The Diaoyu islands, known in Japan as the Senkaku islands and in Taiwan as the Diaoyutai islands, are an island chain in the East China Sea claimed by the three parties but controlled by Japan, which nationalized three of the islands in September last year, a move condemned by Beijing as an illegal appropriation of Chinese territory.
US can no longer contain China within First Island Chain: Duowei
The Guangzhou, a Type 052B guided-missile destroyer, passes through the Bashi Channel to participate in the Mobile 5 exercise on Oct. 23. (Photo/Xinhua)
China's Mobile 5 naval exercise in the Western Pacific between Oct. 18 and Nov. 1 has shown that the United States can no longer contain the Chinese maritime power within the First Island Chain — which extends from Alaska, South Korea, Japan, Okinawa, Taiwan and the Philippines, according to Duowei News, an outlet run by overseas Chinese.
Under the request of Admiral Wu Shengli, commander of the People's Liberation Army Navy, the Mobile 5 naval exercise deployed vessels, submarines, helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft from China's North Sea Fleet, East Sea Fleet and South Sea Fleet to compete against each other in an environment closest to real combat. The exercise was launched to prove that Chinese vessels have the ability to hold exercises beyond the First Island Chain by penetrating the Miyako waterway between the Japanese islands of Miyako and Okinawa.
State-run China Central Television (CCTV) reported that Japanese aircraft closely monitored the Chinese naval fleet during the exercise. During a press conference held on Oct. 31, Chinese defense ministry spokesperson Yang Yujun said the Japan Maritime Self Sefense Force sent the Ikazuchi — a Murasame-class destroyer — into the area of exercise on Oct. 25 and claimed that the intrusion was a act of provocation. Yang said that China demands a promise from the Japanese government to never interrupt Chinese naval exercises in the future.
Tensions between the two countries continue to mount after the Japanese government nationalized the disputed Diaoyu (Senkaku or Diaoyutai) islands last September. The Diaoyu islands, known in Japan as the Senkaku islands and in Taiwan as the Diaoyutai islands, are an island chain in the East China Sea claimed by the three parties but controlled by Japan.
China has begun to launch routine naval exercises near the disputed waters, while Chinese vessels penetrate the Miyako waterway at least once every two months for exercises in the Western Pacific, according to the London-based Jane's Defense Weekly.
Du Wenlong, a military analyst from Beijing told Duowei News that the First Island Chain was established by the United States and its alliesduring the Cold War to contain the maritime expansion of China. The PLA Navy has made several attempts to break through the line over the years, proving its ability to launch military drills beyond the makeshift barrier, Du said.
Another military expert Chen Hu said the PLA Navy has no intention of challenging the position of the US Navy as a global maritime superpower, but China has a legal right to conduct exercises like any of other nation in the open sea.
China's nuclear-powered ballistic submarine is capable of conducting combat patrol missions around the Second Island Chain, according to military expert Li Li in an interview with the Party-run People's Daily online.
The Second Island Chain extends from Honshu on the Japanese island chain southward to New Guinea.
Only a few nations around the world are able to construct their own ballistic submarines because of the sheer difficulty, said Li. Larger pressurized water reactors are suitable for surface combat vessels, but cannot be used for submarines. It is extremely difficult for most nations around the world to build a properly sized pressurized water reactor in their submarines. Then there is building a nuclear reactor.
The PLA Navy have solved these major problems through years of development. The earlier Chinese submarines designed during the Cold War were small, noisy and had a short attack range. China's new generation Type 094 Jin-class submarines are able to reach the Second Island Chain. Equipped with 16 JL-2 missiles, their attack range extends 8,000km.
The JL-2 could hit Los Angeles from the waters east of the Kurile islands in the northern Pacific, Peter Howarth points out in his work China's Rising Sea Power: The Pla Navy's Submarine Challenge. When launched from the East China Sea, the JL-2 can reach Guam, Hawaii and Alaska. The JL-2 intercontinental submarine-launched ballistic missiles can also be equipped with a nuclear warhead, posing a considerable threat to US national
Chinese electronic reconnaissance ship in Hawaiian waters
A Chinese electronic reconnaissance ship. (Internet Photo)
By sending a People's Liberation Army electronic reconnaissance ship into Hawaiian waters, China is ready to project its influence to what it perceives as a "third island chain", which extends from the Aleutian Islands to Australia, what the Chinese have interpreted to be the "strategic rear" of the US military in the Asia-Pacific region, reports the state run Global Times.
As Professor James R. Holmes pointed out in his article written for the Diplomat, an online current affairs magazine based in Tokyo, the concept of a third island chain does not exist from the perspective of Asia specialists in the United States. However, the location of this island chain, positioned as it is only 2,400 miles from the coast of San Francisco symbolizes, from a Chinese point of view at least, the possibility of expanding Chinese maritime influence to the Eastern Pacific, according to Holmes.
Like the strategic location of Taiwan and Japan within the so called "first" – centred on Taiwan – and "second" – stretching from Japan to Indonesia – island chains, China views Hawaii as the center of the third island chain. As the headquarters of the US Pacific Command, Hawaii, from a Chinese perspective, also serves as the "strategic rear" for Washington to reinforce its allies in the Western Pacific if a conflict with China were to take place. The Global Times stressed that it is time for China to demonstrate its capabilities to the United States.
From the perspective of the Ta kung pao, a Hong-Kong based newspaper funded by the Chinese Communist Party, the deployment of the US carrier, USS George Washington to the Yellow Sea for joint naval exercises with the Republic of Korea Navy and the Japan Maritime Self Defense Force is an act of provocation. For this reason, the electronic reconnaissance ship had been deployed to Hawaiian waters and the Mobile 5 naval exercise was launched in an undisclosed location in the Western Pacific with the participation of China's three major fleets.
The displacement of Chinese electronic reconnaissance ships is between 500 and 4,000 tons and they are equipped with a radio receiver, a radar receiver, a signal analyzer and even electronic jamming equipment. The appearance of the electronic reconnaissance ship in Hawaiian waters was posited as proof that China is able to conduct intelligence operations within the territorial waters of the United States, according to the paper, purportedly showing that the largest naval base in the Pacific is no longer safe from a potential Chinese naval attack.