China Claims Submarine no Threat to Japan
copyright 11/19/03 SeaWaves magazine
Beijing November 18, 2003 (EPD) - Days ago, "China's submarine" became a hot topic of conversations among Japan's media and military. According to a Japan's media report, at around 8:00 a.m. November 12, a Japanese marine Self-Defense Forces' P-3C anti-submarine patrol airplane was flying over Kagoshima, Kyushu Island. Suddenly, a "situation" nearby the sea area was shown on the plane's meter. The plane immediately flew over there and discovered a submarine sailing on the sea in the water area of O Sumi Strait.
At that time, the submarine was about 40-km away from Japan's coastline and around 18 km from Japan's territorial waters. The crew of the plane saw that the submarine, flying China's National Flag, was sailing southwestward from northeast. For a while, they felt very nervous, and immediately reported this situation to the Defense Agency. The Defense Agency ordered the patrol airplane to continue tailing after and keeping the Chinese submarine under surveillance. Japan's patrol airplane kept circling over the Chinese submarine for several hours; China's submarine sailed normally, without any unusual activities. During which time, Japanese patrol airplane kept in touch with the Defense Agency. The latter was also working intensively; studying what countermeasures should be adopted next. After it was confirmed that the Chinese submarine posed no "threatening action", the Staff Department of Japan's Defense Agency released this news. It is disclosed that Japan's Defense Agency quickly reported this situation to US forces stationed in Japan, the latter immediately sent out a reconnaissance airplane, which, together with Japan's patrol airplane, followed and supervised the Chinese submarine. But the Chinese submarine did not conduct any dialogs and contacts with the Japan-US reconnaissance plane. Soon afterwards, the Chinese submarine went under water and disappeared into the vast sea.
Japan's Defense Agency claimed that they still did not know the real aim of this submarine that appeared in Japan's nearby water area. In addition, although the O Sumi Strait is the water region of Japan's exclusive economic zone, according to the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, the strait belongs to international sea area, and foreign war vessels can navigate there freely.
Japanese and world media gave high attention to the movement of the Chinese submarine. Immediately after this piece of news was released by Japan's Defense Agency, Japan's major newspapers, radios and TV stations reported the news, talking glibly about the "threat of the Chinese submarine"; Associated Press and Reuters also immediately gave follow-up reports. In almost all these reports, analyses were focused on the aim and reason for the sailing of the Chinese submarine.
One saying was that the Chinese submarine's entry into Japan's nearby water region was designed to keep close watch over Japan-US joint military exercise. An Aisahi Shimbun report of Japan said: From November 7-16, Japan and the United States conducted military exercises in the vicinity of Kyushu Island and the surrounding water regions of Japan, the Chinese submarine emerged in the nick of the time of the military drill, it was quite possible that it was to make surveillance over the exercise. Malaysia's Sinchow Daily also said that the activity of the Chinese submarine might possibly be directed at the military exercise, the largest of its kind over the past 50 years.
Another saying was that China was "showing its strength" to Japan. An official with the research department of the "Japan International Forum" said: China was to indicate that it could deploy its submarine at a distant place and show that the Chinese armed forces had been steadily upgrading its (submarine) technology. He added that the Chinese submarine sailing very close to Japan's water region was obviously aimed to "show its strength" to Japan.
An overseas media also pointed out that the Chinese mainland's submarine cruised the oceans, one of its missions was to frighten and stop the "Taiwan independence" forces. A Hong Kong "Sun Daily" report said that the mainland's submarine flying a National Flag set out on a "high-key" ocean voyage. Its prowling range had gone far beyond the distance from the mainland's southeast coast to the east of Taiwan Island. The newspaper said this was done for "Chen Shui-bian to see.
Some military strategists approached the matter from another perspective. In the opinion of an analyst with a Canadian intelligence center commented that the Chinese submarine was discovered only after it surfaced in the vicinity of a Japanese water region, this showed the improvement in the concealment function of the new-type submarine of the Chinese Navy.
Surprisingly, although disputes between Japan's Self-Defense Forces and US troops stationed in Japan over the Chinese submarine had been going on for two days, not a single report about this had appeared in leading Japanese newspapers and news agencies. Analysis believe the reason for the emergence of this phenomenon obviously was that Japan's Defense Agency had told various major media organizations that the matter should be handled calmly in order not to affect the Japan-US joint military maneuvers. Experts also pointed out that this phenomenon also shows that the Chinese submarine's navigation on the O Sumi Strait is reasonable and legal, which makes it impossible for the Japanese side to make rash charges.
Chinese Foreign Ministry's spokesman Liu Jianchao on November 13 openly indicated that the Chinese submarine's entry into a nearby Japanese sea area is a normal training on the sea. Chinese experts on the International Law of the Sea said that Japan's territorial waters are within the limit extending 12 nautical miles (about 22 km) outward from its coastline. The Chinese submarine was then 40 km away from Japan's coast, according to the stipulations of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, the place is an international water region, though it belongs to Japan's exclusive economic zone water area, foreign warships can navigate freely. From the perspective of common international practice, there is nothing improper in the move of China's Navy. Even Japan’s Defense Agency and various major media organizations recognize this. Furthermore, the important straits and channels belonging to international water regions are of course the places where warships must sailing through. In addition, the Chinese submarine floated up on its own when it passed through the O Sumi Strait and, in the process of navigation, it did not take any anti-control measures against Japan-US surveillance. This implies that the Chinese submarine's navigation contains no hostility, and it is entirely normal training.
Then, why some people in Japan were so sensitive to the normal training of the Chinese submarine? The security of surrounding water areas has always been a topic of conversation that affects the nerve of the Japanese. As waters surround Japan, the ocean bears on the clothing, food, housing and transportation for the Japanese. Take food for an example. A survey shows one-third of foods on the dining table of the Japanese are seafood, the average annual consumption of aquatic products for a Japanese exceeds his or her weight, to reach more than 70 kg. The importation and exportation of Japan's petroleum, minerals, foods and finished industrial products cannot be carried out without the surrounding seas. Based on such an oceanic concept, the Japanese government is extremely sensitive to the security of the surrounding water regions. Statistics from the London International Strategic Research Institute show that the naval vessels of various countries are conducting very frequent activities in the East Asian water areas, the United States, Russia, Japan, the Republic of Korea and others have deployed a total of nearly one hundred submarines of various types, several dozen of them are often prowling in the vicinity of Japan. The Japanese government is very worried about this situation.
However, Japan was really oversensitive to the appearance of the Chinese submarine this time. A reporter made a random search of Japan's Internet, and he was stunned by the result that one can find almost every move relating to China's national defense building, even information about when a Chinese warship was placed under maintenance and repair was available. The "Defense White Papers" issued by Japan's Defense Agency for several consecutive years all pointed out: The frequent appearance and disappearance of Chinese naval vessels in Japan's offshore constituted threat to Japan. So-called Japan's offshore includes the water areas near China's Diaoyudao Island, the Tsu Garu Strait, the Korean Strait and the O Sumi Strait and several other international channels while China's naval vessels refer to China's icebreakers, oceanographic research ships, etc. For this reason, Japan's Self-Defense Forces have equipped over 100 high-function anti-submarine patrol airplanes, bought and built numerous anti-submarine warships and constructed an anti-submarine network with the largest density in the East Asian region. But what is disturbing is that this network is "self-protection" in name, in fact it does not stick to defense. It was reported that in July this year, a P-3C anti-submarine patrol airplane of Japan's marine Self-Defense Forces flew very close to China's territorial waters.
An American expert on international issues said that as an island country, Japan's stress on the security of surrounding sea areas is understandable, but Japan is evidently oversensitive, it regards its neighboring countries as threat; on this basis, Japan has excessively developed its sea power, which, in turn, constitutes threat to its neighboring countries.
Edited By TMSmalley on 1069250332