Bloomberg News

China Expanding Naval Reach Worries Japan Over Routine Presence

August 01, 2011

Aug. 2 (Bloomberg) -- Japan expressed mounting concern over China’s expanding naval reach, saying in the government’s annual defense report that it expects the rising maritime power’s ships to become commonplace near its waters.

“China plans to expand its sphere of maritime activities, carrying out operations and training as an ordinary routine practice in waters surrounding Japan,” said the report, which was released today in Tokyo. The areas Japan believes it will encounter China’s navy include the “East China Sea and the Pacific Ocean, as well as the South China Sea.”

The report, unchanged from last year in citing the Chinese military’s lack of transparency, adds to recently voiced concerns from the U.S., Vietnam and the Philippines over naval spats. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton warned last month that disputes in the South China Sea threaten to disrupt one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes.

After a collision between a Chinese fishing trawler and Japanese Coast Guard vessels in the East China Sea last year, Japan shifted the focus of its national defense toward China and away from Russia. Japan said it would deploy troops to its southwestern islands and strengthen its air force in Okinawa, according to military guidelines approved by Prime Minister Naoto Kan’s Cabinet in December. Japan said at the time it would move personnel and tanks from the northern island of Hokkaido, close to Russia, which were put in place to counter Cold War threats.

Formal Protest

In March Japan made a formal protest to China after a Chinese helicopter buzzed a Japanese destroyer in the East China Sea. In the South China Sea there has been an increase in “intimidations, the ramming, the cuttings of cables -- the kinds of things that will raise the cost of business for everyone,” Clinton said last month at a meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in Bali, Indonesia.

China claims most of the South China Sea and says any attempt to drill or fish in the waters is a violation of its sovereignty. Chinese vessels in May sliced cables of a survey ship doing work for Vietnam, the second such incident in a month. In March, Chinese ships chased away a vessel working for U.K.-based Forum Energy Plc off the Philippines.

--Editors: Patrick Harrington, Gearoid Reidy

To contact the reporter on this story: Sachiko Sakamaki in Tokyo at ssakamaki1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Peter Hirschberg at phirschberg@bloomberg.net


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