Up to six Chinese law enforcement agency vessels, roughly analogous to Coast Guard Cutters, have entered the territorial waters of islands administered by Japan, and Japanese Coast Guard Cutters responded. It does not look like the disagreement is going to go away quietly. Anti-Japanese anger is being nurtured in China. Both China and Japan are preparing for a leadership change, and no one wants to look weak.
Illustration: from CIA map
A good summary of events is here. A second source indicates the Chinese have “1,000” fishing vessels en route.
“And, whether we like it or not, Washington is involved.“
The Chinese have taken an additional step and filed a claim on the islands with the UN describing its interpretation of where the baselines are drawn and enacted a national law that,
“prohibits foreign warships and vessels from entering the waters around the Diaoyu Islands without permission from the Chinese government.”
This seems to reflect China’s broader interpretation of the ability of a state to restrict access to its EEZ.
If the situation were not complicated enough, don’t forget there is a third party here, who are also inserting themselves in the mix. Taiwan also claims these islands and have also sent their Coast Guard into the area.
Photos of some of the players here.
Update: There are now as many as eleven Chinese law enforcement vessels in the island’s contiguous zones. http://www.thestandard.com.hk/breaking_news_detail.asp?id=25282&icid=a&d_str=
More here: http://gcaptain.com/japan-chinese-ships-approach-disputed/
Japanese Coast Guard’s a possible responses to incursions by Chinese F/V. http://www.japantimes.co.jp/text/nn20120920a7.html
Japanese Navy (er maritime defense force) view of situation. Interesting comments about difficulty in coordination between their navy and coast guard including differences in fuel systems.
The US Navy may not have any excess ships to loan the CG, but apparently the Chinese Navy has some to lend to the Chinese Maritime Surveillance Agency. It may be old, but at least for now it is well armed.
Eight Chinese patrol vessels enter vicinity:
Brinksmanship becomes the norm:
Good background information, including chart of disputed area here:http://gcaptain.com/call-senkakudiaoyu-china-japan/
Looks like the Chinese have decided their coast guards need to be able to work with their navy.
An analysis of how China might win without fighting: http://thediplomat.com/the-naval-diplomat/2012/10/25/can-china-win-without-fighting/
The Chinese appear to be executing this strategy with repeated incursions into the disputed waters. http://ajw.asahi.com/article/behind_news/politics/AJ201210250060
China still pressing: http://english.kyodonews.jp/news/2012/11/191518.html
A view of how China might prosecute this campaign: http://thediplomat.com/the-naval-diplomat/2012/11/04/can-china-learn-from-rome/
Japanese RAdm suggest China’s reason for interest in islands is to establish “bastion” for their SSBNs. http://www.japantimes.co.jp/text/nn20121107f1.html
Some State Department commentary on China’s latest maneuver: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/worldviews/wp/2012/11/27/state-department-seeking-a-conversation-about-chinas-controversial-passport-map/
Chinese Aircraft have flown into Japanese airspace around the disputed islands.
Up another notch. Chinese patrol aircraft fly through the islands’ airspace. Japan scrambles fighters. Japan considers sending AEW aircraft into the area. http://www.niticentral.com/2012/12/china-vies-for-control-of-disputed-islands-japan-boosts-aerial-surveillance.html
This just won’t go away and it appears both sides are hardening their positions:
China’s Maritime Surveillance Agency is not waiting for the construction of 30 new cutters in five years. https://chuckhillscgblog.net/2010/12/06/china-building-six-major-cutters-a-year-how-many-are-enough/
They have added 11 ships from the Chinese Navy including two former destroyers.
Japan’s Coast Guard is considering hanging on to some of their overaged ship and retirees to deal with the increasing Chinese fleet of Coast Guard type ships. Note the Japanese Coast Guard has 51 ship over 1,000 tons, the largest fleet of cruising cutters in the world, but China is rapidly over taking them. Also note to the Japanese, ships are overage at 20 to 25 years old.
Up another notch. China sends in a non-military maritime patrol aircraft (MPA), Japan sends fighters to intercept. China sends fighters to the area. http://www.defensenews.com/article/20130111/DEFREG03/301110012/Report-China-Launches-Fighters-Amid-Dispute-Japan?odyssey=tab
Lots of opportunities for “misunderstanding.”
Some additional thoughts on the recent events and how the US may be more closely involved than might be assumed. http://www.businessinsider.com/china-fighter-jet-flights-diaoyu-senkaku-islands-2013-1
The “Steeljaw Scribe” brings us some visual aids with commentary.
Chinese General shows bad manners at international conference. Threats, arrogance, underestimating the US:
One more move in asserting their “indisputable” claim
China living in a Parallel Universe?
Some interesting commentary
First Informationdissemination correspondent Feng (also commenting as tphuang) explains why more than other border conflicts, the entire Chinese population is highly invested in this conflict.
and a call for China to put a military presence on the disputed islands (also calls for creation of an armed Chinese Coast Guard).
More threats, this time against Australia: http://www.china-defense-mashup.com/chinese-army-colonel-warns-australia-not-to-dance-with-the-wolf.html
Chinese warship locks firecontrol radar on a Japanese Warship (and helicopter):
(Thanks to Phil for pointing this out)
Japan Security Watch has a short mental exercise thinking about the possible outcomes if these two ships had come to blows.
Incidentally the Chinese are claiming it never happened.
Another view from a commentator I greatly respect. http://blog.usni.org/2013/02/06/honesty-can-be-uncomfortable
including a quote from Captain James Fanell, Deputy Chief of Staff for Intelligence and Information Operations for US Pacific Fleet, “China Marine Surveillance cutters have no other mission but to harass other nations into submitting to China’s expansive claims…China Marine Surveillance is a full-time maritime sovereignty harassment organisation’.”
And an anti-war editorial from the normally belligerent Chinese “Global Times”: http://www.globaltimes.cn/content/759835.shtml
Are they starting to scare themselves?
A Chinese media report of the latest incident: http://www.scmp.com/news/china/article/1151315/japan-lodges-protest-over-chinese-patrol-vessels-near-diaoyu-islands
And some personal observation by a knowledgeable commentator, found here, http://www.informationdissemination.net/2013/02/things-i-noticed-from-my-china-trip.html:
“First of all, I will just talk a little bit about the small number of military related stuff I noticed while I was there. It seems to me that a good number of Chinese citizens think that a war with Japan might happen. Watching TV, it was interesting to see the number of political/military show talking about possible conflict with Japan. I also saw programs celebrating Chinese heroes from the Sino-Japanese war of 1937-1945. There is certainly plenty of anti-Japanese sentiment in China right now…”
Another incident. three Chinese vessels apparently chase a Japanese F/V in Japanese administered waters: http://ajw.asahi.com/article/asia/china/AJ201302210082
Looks like Taiwan is still in the game and is upgrading their Coast Guard, including addition of heavier weapons.
Taiwan considering raising its profile in the dispute.
Japan and Taiwan come to an agreement on fisheries around their disputed islands. Win/win for Taiwan and Japan isolating China. http://jsw.newpacificinstitute.org/?p=10852
Some thoughts on what might happen here, and how it would effect the US:
“Japan would respond with force if any attempt is made to land on disputed islands, PM Shinzo Abe has warned.” http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-22260140
Some analysis of the recent fire control lock on incident here: http://jsw.newpacificinstitute.org/?p=10876
Basically it comes down to the nationalistic Chinese military acting independently of the government. This is sounds an awful lot like how the Japanese military acted prior to WWII.
More views on lock-on incidents (apparently their have been two):
We have a report that USNS Impeccable was harassed again by a Chinese vessel demanding that they get China’s permission to enter their waters, meaning their EEZ. http://p.washingtontimes.com/news/2013/jul/17/inside-the-ring-new-naval-harassment-in-asia/
Japan is exercising and propagandizing its claim in conflicts with both China and S. Korea:
China has kicked it up a notch by declaring an Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) in airspace claimed by Japan. BBC has good diagrams, http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-25062525
The move has been declared “dangerous” by Japan and they refuse to recognize the new Chinese ADIZ. http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2013/11/23/national/china-sets-up-air-defense-id-zone-above-senkakus/#.UpFCRIVTAnU
Commentary, diagram and a wealth of links here: http://cimsec.org/china-air-defense-identification-zone/
Following designation of its new ADIZ China cautions the US not to repeat its previous mistakes:
Some analysis of the ADIZ implementation here: http://www.defensenews.com/article/20131125/DEFREG03/311250024/China-s-Air-Defense-Zone-Rattles-Japan-US
German Navy blog reports without attribution for 25 Nov:
USA – JAPAN
Bilateral air/sea exercise “Annualex 13” kicked off in the Philippine Sea … comprehensive scenarios involving maritime training in the air, surface and subsurface battlespaces in support of the defense of Japan … US Navy participants include GEORGE WASHINGTON Carrier Strike Group.
(rmks: in coming days, activities will also spread to the East China Sea, with a number of military flights in China’s newly declared ADIZ)
and for 26 Nov:
CHINA (Territorial Disputes)
With Japan: A pair of US B-52 bombers carried out a “pre-planned” training flight mission through international air space in China’s newly declared ADIZ in the East China Sea … flew over the Seknanu islands without complying with Chinese rules and without incident.
(rmks: setting the standard for non-compliance with the Chinese rules for all US Allies; still, the Chinese might not back down from challenging a Japanese or South Korean military flight)
Now the Chinese are attempting to intimidate the USN–don’t think that will work: http://freebeacon.com/chinese-naval-vessel-tries-to-force-u-s-warship-to-stop-in-international-waters/
“as a strategist, however, I now believe this is going to end very badly, very badly indeed.”
Interesting post: http://breakingdefense.com/2013/12/china-can-win-big-in-the-pacific-by-backing-down-edward-luttwak/
You can see how Japan is reacting here: http://news.usni.org/2013/12/20/inside-japans-new-defense-plan
Latest incident of China’s Coast Guard entering Japanese territorial waters and Japan stating they will not tolerate it. http://www.defensenews.com/article/20140112/DEFREG03/301120017/Japan-Vows-Defense-China-Ships-Near-Disputed-Isles
And the new large air-cushion vehicle they may use to achieve a fait accompli in seizing islands.
Senior US diplomat voices growing concern over China, http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/02/05/us-asia-usa-china-idUSBREA1428720140205?feedType=RSS&feedName=worldNews
Chief of intelligence of the U.S. Pacific Fleet (PACFLEET) says, “[We] concluded that the PLA has been given the new task to be able to conduct a short sharp war to destroy Japanese forces in the East China Sea…”