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Defence & Aerospace

US would welcome Japanese air patrols in South China Sea


Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force's PC3 surveillance plane flies around the disputed islands in the East China Sea, known as the Senkaku isles in Japan and Diaoyu in China, in this October 13, 2011 file photo. REUTERS

Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force’s PC3 surveillance plane flies around the disputed islands in the East China Sea, known as the Senkaku isles in Japan and Diaoyu in China, in this October 13, 2011 file photo. REUTERS

The United States would welcome a Japanese extension of air patrols into the South China Sea as a counterweight to a growing fleet of Chinese vessels pushing China’s territorial claims in the region, a senior U.S. Navy officer told Reuters.

Regular patrols by Japanese aircraft only reach into the East China Sea, where Japan is at loggerheads with China over disputed islands. Extending surveillance flights into the South China Sea would almost certainly increase tension between the world’s second- and third-largest economies.

“I think allies, partners and friends in the region will look to the Japanese more and more as a stabilising function,” Admiral Robert Thomas, commander of the Seventh Fleet and the top U.S. navy officer in Asia, said in an interview.

“In the South China Sea, frankly, the Chinese fishing fleet, the Chinese coastguard and the (navy) overmatch their neighbours,” Thomas said.

Asked about Thomas’s statement, China’s Foreign Ministry called on all countries to avoid raising tension.

“Countries outside the region should respect the efforts of countries in the region to safeguard peace and stability, and not do things that will drive a wedge between other countries, and create tension,” ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told a daily briefing.

Thomas’s comments show Pentagon support for a key element of Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe‘s push for a more active military role in the region. That is crucial because U.S and Japanese officials are negotiating new bilateral security guidelines expected to give Japan a bigger role in the alliance, 70 years after the end of World War Two.

“I think that JSDF (Japan Maritime Self Defense Forces) operations in the South China Sea makes sense in the future,” Thomas said.

Japan is not party to the dispute in the South China Sea where China, the Philippines, Vietnam, Taiwan, Malaysia and Brunei have competing claims. But the waterway provides 10 per cent of the global fisheries catch and ships crossing it carry $5 trillion a year in cargo, a large portion to and from Japan.

A Japanese Defence Ministry spokesman was not available for comment. Japan has never indicated any intention to patrol the South China Sea.

The ministry routinely declines to comment on any changes to guidelines being discussed with the United States. It calls for peaceful solutions to disputes and for all countries to follow international law and conventions.

“MORE ROBUST AND PROACTIVE”

Abe is pushing for legislation later this year that would allow Japan’s military to operate more freely overseas as part of a broader interpretation of the self-defence allowed by its pacifist constitution.

Those changes coincide with the deployment of a new Japanese maritime patrol plane, the P-1, with a range of 8,000 km (5,000 miles). That is double the range of current aircraft and could allow Japan to push surveillance deep into the South China Sea.

“This is a logical outgrowth of Abe’s push for a more robust and proactive military. It is also a substantial departure from JSDF’s customary operations,” said Grant Newsham, a research fellow at the Japan Forum for Strategic Studies and a former U.S. Marine liaison officer to Japan’s military.

Newsham said sending surveillance aircraft to the South China Sea would allow Japan to deepen its military ties with countries like the Philippines, one of Abe’s goals to counter China’s growing naval power.

China has outlined the scope of its claims with reference to a so-called nine-dash line on its maps that takes in about 90 percent of the South China Sea.

“The alleged nine-dash line, which doesn’t comport with international rules and norms, standards, laws, creates a situation down there, which is unnecessary friction,” said Thomas.

The Scarborough Shoal near the Philippines is one flashpoint in the South China Sea. The Philippines complains that China has kept its fishermen from waters around the shoal. Thomas said Japan could help the Philippines with equipment and training.

“For the Philippines, the issue is one of capacity. For the Japanese that is a perfect niche for them to help, not just in equipment, but in training and operations,” he said.

Philippine Defence Secretary Voltaire Tuvera Gazmin met Japanese Defence Minister Gen Nakatani in Tokyo on Thursday, and they signed a memorandum on cooperation that includes military exchanges, training and defence technology and equipment.

Gazim told Nakatani that “common security concerns provide an opportunity to deepen defence cooperation”.

Nakatani said the agreement had “taken defence ties to a new level”. He declined to say if China’s presence in the South China Sea and East China Sea had been discussed.

Centred around the USS George Washington carrier battle group with its home port in Japan, the U.S. Seventh Fleet includes some 80 vessels, 140 aircraft and 40,000 sailors making it the most powerful naval force in the western Pacific.

Source: Reuters “U.S. would welcome Japan air patrols in South China Sea”

 

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About chankaiyee2

Author of the book "Tiananmen's Tremendous Achievements" about how with the help of Tiananmen Protests, talented scholars with moral integrity seized power in the Party and state and brought prosperity to China. The second edition of the book will be published within a few days to mark the 25th anniversary of Tiananmen Protests All the parts in the first edition remain in the second edition with a few changes due to information available later and better understanding. There are also some changes for improvements of style. The new parts are Chapters 12-19 on events in China after the first edition was published: The fierce power struggle for succession between reformists and conservatives; Xi Jinping winning all elders’ support during his mysterious disappearance for 2 weeks in early September, 2012; and Xi Jinping Cyclone. Chan Kai Yee's new book: SPACE ERA STRATEGY: The Way China Beats The US An eye-opening book that tells the truth how the US is losing to China. The US is losing as it adopts the outdated strategy of Air-Sea Battle while China adopts the space era strategy to pursue integrated space and air capabilities: It is losing due to its diplomacy that has given rise to Russian-Chinese alliance. US outdated strategy has enabled China to catch up and surpass the US in key weapons: Hypersonic weapons (HGV) that Pentagon regards as the weapon that will dominate the world in the future. Aerospaceplane in China’s development of space-air bomber that can engage enemy anywhere in the world within an hour and destroy an entire aircraft carrier battle group within minutes. Anti-satellite (ASAT) weapons, anti-ASAT weapons, stealth aircrafts, drones, AEW&C, etc. The book gives detailed descriptions of China’s weapon development based on information mainly from Chinese sources that the author monitors closely. U.S. Must Not Be Beaten by China! China is not a democracy. Its political system cannot prevent the emergence of a despotic leader or stop such a leader when he begins to bring disasters to people. A few decades ago, Mao Zedong, the worst tyrant in world history did emerge and bring disasters to Chinese people. He wanted to fight a nuclear war to replace capitalism with communism but could not bring nuclear holocaust to world people as China was too weak and poor at that time. If a despot like Mao Zedong emerges when China has surpassed the US in military strength, world people will suffer the misery experienced by Chinese people in Mao era. China surpassing the US in GDP is not something to worry about as China has the heavy burden to satisfy its huge population, but China surpassing the US in military strength will be world people’s greatest concern if China remains an autocracy. US people are of much better quality than Chinese people. What they lack is a wise leader to adopt the correct strategy and diplomacy and the creative ways to use its resources in developing its military capabilities. I hope that with the emergence of a great leader, the US can put an end to its decline and remain number one in the world. China, US, space era strategy, air-sea battle, space-air bomber, arms race, weapon development, chan kai yee

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