Chinese officials admit to MSDF radar lock allegations


A Chinese frigate did direct fire-control radar at a Maritime Self-Defense Force destroyer on the high seas near the Senkaku Islands in January but the act was not planned, senior Chinese military officials said recently.

Admitting for the first time to Japan’s allegation that weapons-targeting rather than monitoring radar was used, the officials, including flag officers, said an “emergency decision” had been made by the commander of the frigate.

Tensions have been riding high since September, when Japan effectively nationalized the islands, which China calls Diaoyu. Ships and planes from both sides have been antagonizing each other over the dispute ever since.

The claim that the radar incident was accidental is seen by Defense Ministry officials as a signal that China is either playing mind games or softening its stance toward Japan, which has been quick to play up Chinese activity in the area but slow to reveal its own.

The Chinese government has been critical of the allegation and described Japan’s reports on the incident as a “fabrication.” It is expected to officially maintain that stance despite the latest accounts.

With regard to an alleged violation of Japanese airspace in December near the islands, the Chinese officials admitted it was part of the military’s action plan but added they did not intend to aggravate the situation and do not intend to do so in the future.

The officials urged Japan to calm the situation by not becoming fixated on the incidents and by refraining from disclosing data to prove the radar lock took place.

“If this is true, one has to question a military system that leaves (such) authority in commanders’ hands even when they are not in a dire situation,” said Adm. Katsutoshi Kawano, chief of staff of the Maritime Self-Defense Force.

Kawano also said he’s not unsure what the intention of China’s radar lock admission is.

According to the Chinese officials, the frigate and the Japanese destroyer were three km apart on the morning of Jan. 30 and situated around 110 to 130 km north of the Senkaku Islands. The commander of the frigate directed the fire-control radar at the destroyer based on its rules of engagement and without seeking directions from fleet command or navy headquarters.

“The communication system used by the Chinese navy is not as advanced as those of Japan and the United States,” a senior official said, explaining why the commander did not seek guidance. Whether the commander was reprimanded remains unknown.

The officials said the airspace violation was planned by the staff section of the national Land and Sea Border Defense Committee, which acts as a liaison office for the Chinese military, the State Oceanic Administration and the fishing bureau of the Agriculture Ministry, with the aim of escalating the situation and was carried out using SOA aircraft.

The flight course and altitude were thoroughly planned by calculating the presence of Japanese radar and airborne early warning and control systems, they said.

  • justice_first

    From one Chinese official ? Why is It anonymous ?

    Again, you have to show evidence to prove that the Chinese “did” lock its firing radar. This cannot be an easy “excuse” for japan not to produce the evidence.

    Japan made the accusation, and it is up to Japan to produce the evidence.

    • +observer+


    • MarkYY

      You would have to ask the Chinese why its anonymous . AFAIK, the CCP has a very tight rein on information sources. Of course, you could also be implying that the Japanese are fabricating this too. If that’s the case, where is your evidence for that?

      The USA has seen the data the Japanese had about this, and agreed with their assessment that fire control radar was used by the Chinese ship and that a lock was confirmed. To give away this type of info would reveal to China what type of detection systems were used, the type of signals produced,etc… Radar is extremely sophisticated and militaries around the world have devoted billions to make their aircraft/ships evade detection. If Japan released data that showed China how they detected them, would you see a problem with that, from Japans point of view? Wouldn’t it be tantamount to telling China how to evade further radar detection?

      Also, how do we know that privately, Japan has shown some evidence to China – China has been strangely silent about this since the incident occurred. If Japan was truly in the wrong, wouldn’t their be a daily drumbeat of calling Japanese liars (at least more than what they normally do) anyway?

      Also, the timing is interesting in that China, since officially ushering in the new Xi cabinet, has made a decisive turn to be more open and conciliatory in dealing with Japan vis – vis the Senkaku/Diaoyu dispute, and seems more willing to move on, though I’m sure they will wait to see how Japan reacts as well.

      Hopefully both sides will take advantage of this brief return to sanity and avoid a war or at least unnecessary conflict and deal with much larger and important issues.

  • +observer+

    Which offical admitted this? do we have a name. what is this third rate journalism. As if the Chinese is going to admit this.

    • CMLiu

      Why would it not be anonymous?

      Imagine what happens to the guy and his family when the average fenqing finds out his name.
      If the Chinese commander did in fact say that neither side should get
      hung up on some tiny issue, that’s good progress. Hell, even the entire
      island debate isn’t worth anything.

  • justice_first

    Now it is fair to see the evidence.

    No more mysterious accusation from any anonymous person. No more trick on both sides.

    Just look at the facts on both sides, like radar signals, operation records etc etc.
    Lets get it over with.

  • If Japan simply sat down and negotiated with China this wouldn’t be a problem. Japan has its own stubbornness to blame

    • MarkYY

      So you’re saying China’s reaction is perfectly justifiable? In the prelude to the Iraq war, when allied fighters were flying over the no fly zones in Iraq, any Iraqi anti aircraft batteries that were detected to have achieved a radar lock on Nato aircraft, even without firing missiles, were considered to be commiting an hostile act and were destroyed.
      Achieving radar lock is analogous to pointing a gun at a target, releasing the safety, aiming the gun , and putting your finger on the trigger. The next step is firing.
      Why would the Chinese ship feel so threatened that it would want to target the Japanese vessel to begin with? This was a Japanese Coast guard ship – no missiles – probably just an anti personnel gun and water cannons were its only armament. There were no known Japanese Naval vessels in the immediate area – again, how was the Chinese ship threatened?

      • justice_first

        China already said many times, no fire control radar was used in targeting Japanese ship. Isn’t it already crystal clear ?

        It is up to Japan to substantiate its claim. Otherwise please leave the subject alone and not to “create” an anonymous account of this sort. It is unfair to the Chinese.

        Being a fair minded person, I am sure you agree.

        The Chinese ships, in military training, had a right to feel threatened. America feels threatened by a rising China….Why Japan was following the Chinese ships in dangerously close distance in the first place ? Japan should be at least partly responsible to the hysteria.

  • justice_first

    Japan’s tactic seems to follow a certain pattern. In the island dispute, many Japanese tried to dig into Chinese historic records, maps newspaper, any material from the Chinese side they can find to argue that the islands were “not” Chinese, presumably acknowledged by the Chinese themselves. This is in contrast to the very little they can find from Japanese records, showing the islands were Japanese.

    Now, the Japanese repeat the same trick, by using anonymous Chinese “informants” to smear China again of locking radar on Japanese ship. They think this is going to be more “believable” to the world.

    The Chinese government has denied it for the third time.

    Now we must demand Japan to produce the so called evidence, to settle the issue.