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China should stop playing dangerous game over Senkakus
Publication Date : 08-02-2013
The Chinese Army has crossed a line, taking an action against the Maritime Self-Defence Force that went beyond global military norms. We can hardly tolerate this provocative, and also extremely dangerous, action.
The Japanese government recently revealed that a Chinese Navy frigate locked its fire-control radar onto an MSDF destroyer north of the Senkaku Islands on January 30.
Fire-control radar is used to guide hostile fire--such as missiles--toward a target. Locking the radar onto a target is regarded as tantamount to an attack. Another step in the wrong direction could lead to a military clash.
China has repeatedly provoked Japan on a number of occasions, such as having its ship-based helicopters approach MSDF vessels at extremely close range and sending airplanes from its State Oceanic Administration to intrude into Japanese territory. However, China's latest provocations rise to a new level of outrage.
It was totally appropriate for the Japanese government to reveal the radar incident to the public and lodge a protest with China. "We will urge China to restrain its actions and prevent similar actions from recurring," Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said.
Global concerns raised
China's high-handed behaviour against its neighbours over the East China Sea and the South China Sea has been a concern of Asian countries for some time, but now it has become a common concern of the global community.
Japan should strengthen its cooperation with the United States and countries in Southeast Asia and urge China to rectify its problematic behavior. At the same time, it is important for the government to respond calmly to the matter to keep the situation from escalating further.
The government must also realise that tensions with China in areas around the Senkaku Islands have ratcheted up to an even more dangerous level. The SDF will be required to cooperate more closely with U.S. forces and the Japan Coast Guard to reinforce preparedness for any contingency in the area.
During a party meeting held January 28, Chinese Communist Party leader Xi Jinping rejected the possibility of making any compromise on the nation's "core interests, sovereignty, security and development interests".
However, experts are divided on whether Xi knew about the Chinese frigate's action beforehand or some military officers made the radar decision on their own initiative.
China's Foreign Affairs Ministry said it will confirm the facts of the incident. Having said so, the ministry has a responsibility to thoroughly investigate the incident and reveal the results to the public. It must not try to set the matter aside without clarifying the whole picture.
Rise of 'China threat theory'
During his meeting with New Komeito leader Natsuo Yamaguchi on January 25, Xi stressed the importance of dialogue between the two countries. However, after the talks, China perpetrated both the radar incident and a 14-hour intrusion into Japanese waters by a marine surveillance ship--the longest intrusion ever. The incidents present serious problems.
Before leaving office, former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton clearly stated she opposes China's strong-arm actions aimed at changing the current status of the Senkaku Islands. On Tuesday, State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland expressed concern over China's latest provocative action.
It is likely that countries concerned about China's territorial claims will raise their level of caution against the nation due to the radar incident. It will also likely accelerate the rise of a "China threat theory".
If the Chinese leadership wants to avoid such situations, it should issue clear instructions to its military to contain itself and refrain from provocative behaviour.