The danger of provocation

Two Chinese jet fighters came within tens of meters of two Japanese Self-Defense Forces planes on two separate occasions within about an hour over the East China Sea on May 24. This highly dangerous move on the part of China could cause an accident or even a military clash. It is imperative that China halt such provocative actions and act responsibly. Japan, for its part, needs to remain calm in such situations and take utmost care not to rise to the provocation. To reduce the chances of an unanticipated military clash, Tokyo and Beijing should develop a system to allow frequent and smooth communication.

According to the Defense Ministry, around 11 a.m. on May 24, two Chinese SU-27 fighters approached a Mariime Self-Defense Force OP-3C surveillance plane from behind and one fighter came as close as 50 meters. About an hour later, two SU-27 fighters similarly approached an Air Self-Defense Force YS-11EB electronic intelligence aircraft and one came within 30 meters. In both cases, the Chinese fighters were armed with missiles.

The incidents occurred in an area where Japan’s air defense identification zone overlaps with an ADIZ that China declared last November. The two SDF aircraft were monitoring a joint naval drill being conducted by China and Russia near Japanese territorial waters, according to a government source quoted in a media report.

China insists that its jet fighters scrambled against the SDF planes because they tried to interfere with the China-Russia joint military exercise. But China’s explanation rings false. Although Beijing says that the Chinese jets issued warnings to the SDF planes beforehand, the Defense Ministry says that no warnings were issued and that the SDF aircraft, which were engaged in routine surveillance activities, never interfered with the exercise. Most importantly, the SDF planes were not moving toward Chinese territory. Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera was right to accuse China of going “over the top.”

When Vice Foreign Minister Akitaka Saiki summoned Chinese Ambassador to Japan Cheng Yonghua to lodge a protest, they agreed that both governments need to take a joint measure to prevent the development of an unanticipated military situation. Japan and China earlier agreed to install a hotline between government leaders and set up a communication mechanism between Japanese and Chinese naval vessels and military aircraft. But despite long negotiations, these measures have not been implemented. Both Japanese and Chinese government officials should make strenuous efforts to establish them. Both countries should also deepen exchanges between military officials.

In this kind of situation, it is critical for government leaders in both countries to act prudently. In a speech he gave Sunday, Shigeru Ishiba, secretary general of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, used the May 24 incidents and the recent spat between China and Vietnam over China’s oil drilling near the Paracel Islands as cases that justify the lifting of Japan’s ban on collective self-defense — conveniently ignoring the fact that Japan can adequately defend its territory under the current, long-standing interpretation of the Constitution’s Article 9. Such statements, which are aimed at promoting Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s agenda, will only add to the tension between Tokyo and Beijing.

The leaders of both countries should seek to resolve problems through diplomatic dialogue instead of talking about military responses to each other’s moves.

  • Hongkiejj

    a certain country was notified and yet somehow, decided foolishly to send in surveillance planes to monitor. just who is right and wrong and who is the provocative country is clear and the present danger lies in that country that choose to ignore advance notification. case close..

    • phu

      Ha, oh yes, that’s definitely the case. So China has but to warn other nations of its intentions and this somehow precludes anyone from monitoring them — without so much as violating their airspace — and excuses whatever they might do while no one is watching? Very convenient.

      Every nation in the world should be and likely is watching everything China does closely. This is an appropriate response to their ongoing expansionist policies and expressed disregard for the sovereignty of other nations.

      But hey, go ahead, preach your FUD. It’s easy and fun to ignore the facts in favor of picking and choosing actions you dislike and ignoring the parts you don’t.

      • Hongkiejj

        likewise. your argument has no legs to stand on btw. its perfectly ok and reasonable to accept any type of surveillance but in this case, japan has acted recklessly and foolishly and still have the galls to complain about china aggression. there is no shame indeed…. I simple refuse to buy this crap.
        japan were there to spy on the Chinese Russian naval drill. …just admit it and move on but don’t pretend to be on the higher moral ground and make stupid claims about routine surveillance excuses …blah blah….. what a load of hog wash !

      • Jiro

        Call it spying if you want. Nevertheless, its normal business (happens all the time) and there are international standards China has to comply with. The mere truth is that drills on international waters is quite new to China (not Russia which is quite experienced) which is why PLA acts overly aggressive to all foreign monitoring and surveillence.

  • Jiro

    Actually PRC was the aggressor as it is legal for monitoring and reconnaissance of the exercises as it took Place in international waters. It is true that much of the customary law in this field was worked out in the Cold war between CCCP and the US but PRC need to comply with the international standards. Regrettably, this is not the first time PLA(N) reacts overly aggressive…

    • Hongkiejj

      listen jiro, I have no problems with japan or any other countries sending their spy planes but when you are notified in advance of live drills or the area where china and Russia were currently conducting their drills, it is still a bloody reckless move to fly in and to challenge the no fly zone during the exercise. obviously that is provocative.
      just don’t expect a welcome banner screaming across the sky….thus, japan spy planes were monitored, buzzed and told to move away but in your version, it is called harassment. I am more inclined to believe china argument.
      but that is not the only main point of discussion here but rather the argument dat japan pointed fingers and accused china of dangerous actions which in fact was caused and initiated by those spy planes.
      both countries need to chill out frankly. we have had enough of war and sufferings during ww2 for us here in south east asia.

      • Jiro

        You are doing a mistake believing the PRC version. If you know anything about avionics -the maneuvers of the PRC fighter jets were blatantly reckless and resembles the behaviour that resulted in the so called Hainan incident. I state again. China do not conform to set standards and acts with a level of aggression that has not been seen in a long time (apart from North Korea). China is not in a position (neither political or legal) to unilaterally declare extensive no fly zones in international waters but has to conform to standards that were set long before the new rize of PRC. I assure you that the SDF has a far better history of precisely following protocol in air and sea encounters than PRC which has a documented history of acting in lack thereof -thus: PRC actions are objectively aggressive. The foreign monitoring and surveillance has been and always will be. FYI, PRC do it as well whenever and wherever they can.

      • Hongkiejj

        jiro, we can both continue to argue who is right or wrong but we will not have any conclusive ending here either with this flyby story or the azid issues or historical issues.
        whatever the arguments are and whoever is correct or wrong is not the issue now.
        this has to bloody stop now somehow and both countries need to restrain themselves. the issue is how to move forward.
        we have had peace and prosperity here for years in asia and it is still growing strongly which benefits the whole region and in fact the world.
        but japan and china need to address these issues themselves without any 3rd party which I refer to usa and try to trash this thing out.
        there is no weakness nor shame politically for both leaders if both just admit there are issues…disputable issues that need to be address urgently before it gets out of hand.
        just remember, there are no winners here. both countries will end up on the losing side if this continue.
        btw, asean will not take side in this dispute if something happens and that includes Philippines and Vietnam too. no country would want to get drag in this.

      • Jiro

        Well, issues of right and wrong is political statements and you have your affiliations and I have mine. That constitutes values. But this issue, the PRC ADIZ issue as well as history do have objective facts. In this case, by stating that the SDF is the aggressive part, which you repeatedly has implied, is plainly wrong, and that is, by facts of behaviour-not values. Secondly, PRC have had plenty of opportunities to mend its relations with Japan but both you and I know that that is not what PRC is interested in. CCP well knows that playing the Japan card domestically together with its domestic propaganda machine, takes peoples attention off the CCP, whatever economical cost, to both parties, that results in. CCP (=PRC) always seems to choose the best option for keeping its party dictatorship -not the steps needed for a more prosperous and peaceful Asia Pacific region. CCP needs to take a long deep look in the mirror and ask itself if it really is in the interest of China and the chinese to pursue the dangerous path of expansionism it seems to have chosen.

      • Hongkiejj

        as far as the flyby incident, i have no doubts china reasoning is correct. if china interrupts your drill, i would fully agree with your assessment. like i said before, just admit and move on but just don’t try to claim higher moral ground here.
        whether china wants to mend their ties with abe (which i hope they will ), is not a one way street and can i say abe is actually doing the same thing with the china threat theory ? both are equally drumming up nationalism and who is to say who is more right or more wrong ? if china is wrong then japan is equally guilty.
        it is always easy to lay the blame on someone else but do reflect the issues dat are in dispute.