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9/22/2017 12:11:25 AM
Posted: 9/13/2005 7:24:01 AM EDT
from:http://www.nytimes.com/2005/09/11/international/asia/11taiwan.html


Japan's Rivalry With China Is Stirring a Crowded Sea

By NORIMITSU ONISHI and HOWARD W. FRENCH
Published: September 11, 2005


TOKYO, Sept. 10 - In a muscular display of its rising military and economic might, China deployed a fleet of five warships on Friday near a gas field in the East China Sea, a potentially resource-rich area that is disputed by China and Japan.

The ships, including a guided-missile destroyer, were spotted by a Japanese military patrol plane near the Chunxiao gas field, according to the Maritime Self-Defense Forces. It is believed to be the first time that Chinese warships have been seen in that area.


Sailors on a Taiwanese ship recently took part in a defense drill. Tensions between Japan and China have increased Taiwan's security concerns.

Although the fleet's mission was unclear, its timing suggested that it was no coincidence. The warships appeared two days before a general election in Japan, whose results could greatly influence relations between Asia's two great powers, and weeks before China is scheduled to start producing gas in the area, against strong Japanese protests.

In Japan, where the 12-day election campaign was exclusively focused on domestic issues and on what the media described as Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's theatrical politics, the warships were a sudden reminder of its most pressing outside challenge: China.

Until Mr. Koizumi diverted voters' attention from Japan's rapidly deteriorating relationship with China, the focus for several months had been trained on the increasing diplomatic, military and economic rivalry with China - much of it taking place in the waters between the countries, filled with potentially explosive issues like oil and gas and Taiwan.

Both Japan and China are determined to wield a strong hand in the oil-rich seas and strategic shipping lanes that lie between them.

"It is like the 1930's again, when the central Pacific became a vital concern to both the United States and Japan, whose navy was expanding," said Adm. Lang Ning-li, who until his recent retirement was Taiwan's director of naval intelligence. "That means there could be conflict between China and Japan, which both see these seas as vital, and can't share this space."

Security experts from China, Japan, Taiwan and the United States say all the elements are in place for a showdown over Taiwan between Beijing and Tokyo. No one is predicting war, but Taiwan poses a permanent and unpredictable potential crisis. Washington has a close alliance with Japan, security commitments with Taiwan and a complex relationship with China that mixes rivalry with extensive economic ties.

For America, whose support of either Japan or China has historically tipped the balance in the region, the implications are enormous. The recent comments by a Chinese general that his country would use nuclear weapons against the United States if the American military intervened in a conflict over Taiwan were a sharp reminder that Taiwan's fate remains one of the region's biggest flash points. Many analysts argue that such confrontation, verbal or otherwise, could lead to a regional arms race culminating in a nuclear Japan.

Japan imports all of its oil, and because much of it passes through the seas surrounding Taiwan, feels its survival is dependent on keeping those seas stable. Chinese control of Taiwan could hurt Japan's access to oil, Japan fears. And the United States, which has pledged to defend Taiwan if it is attacked by China, would like to count on Japan's help. During the cold war, Japan conducted joint operations with the United States to keep Soviet submarines out of the Sea of Japan. The submarines are now Chinese, but the policy toward them is pure containment.

"You can come out as much as you want, unless you do something wrong," said Adm. Koichi Furusho, who served as chief of staff of Japan's Maritime Self-Defense Force until January.

This cold-war view of China emerged recently in Japan, but Japan's embrace of it is one of the reasons behind the worsening relations between the countries.

During the cold war, the United States was willing to let Japan remain militarily passive as long as it remained a loyal ally, continued to buy American arms and allowed tens of thousands of American troops to be stationed on Japanese soil.

The Bush administration, more suspicious of China than its predecessor, has pushed Japan to take a more assertive stance. It has called for closer ties between the countries' militaries and defense industries and has encouraged conservative Japanese politicians who have long wanted to change the Self-Defense Forces into a full-fledged military and revise the Constitution.

In short order, the Japanese government reinterpreted the Constitution to allow it to dispatch troops to Iraq and effectively abandoned the decades-old ban against arms exports by joining the American missile defense shield.

Then Japan assumed its familiar role of junior ally to the United States in containment. In a major readjustment of its defense policy late last year, Japan redeployed its forces away from northern Japan where they were involved in the cold-war containment of Russia and reinforced Okinawa, considered crucial in the containment of China in the East China Sea. Saying that "China, which has significant influence on the region's security, is pushing forward its nuclear and missile capabilities and modernization of its navy and air force," Japan's Defense Agency labeled China a "concern."

In recent months, Japan has joined the United States in aggressively lobbying the European Union not to lift its arms embargo on China. But the strongest signal yet was Japan's tougher public stance on defending Taiwan against China.

"The joint statement had less to do with Taiwan and more to do with the rise of China, and how Japan and the United States feel a threat from China," said David Huang, Taiwan's vice chairman of mainland affairs. He added, "The joint statement is a signal to China: 'Don't push too far.' "

The United States may see its future rivalry with China as playing out on a global stage. But for Japan, the stage is Asia and the epicenter is around Taiwan.

Japan, which has always seen its lack of natural resources as its Achilles' heel, attacked Pearl Harbor after the United States imposed an oil embargo on Japan.

Most of Japan's oil is shipped through two sea lanes: one directly south of Taiwan and another farther south, which increases the shipping length by a costly two days.

"If you assume conditions are balanced now," said Mr. Furusho, the former chief of staff of Japan's Maritime Self-Defense Forces, "they would collapse as soon as Taiwan unifies with China. The sea lanes would turn all red."

For a generation, asserting control over Taiwan has been the most deeply cherished dream of Beijing's politicians. The separation of China into two parts, in this view, is an unbearable insult to the very idea of being Chinese. Because so few Chinese still feel ideologically bound to the Communist Party, reuniting Taiwan with mainland China is one of the most important ways to bind the government to its public. Standing up to Japan is another, and the two thoughts are increasingly intertwined.

China's leaders have always felt the need to tread carefully in challenging Washington over its security commitments to Taiwan, preferring to bide their time as the economy grows and the military, particularly its air force and navy, develop into world-class fighting forces. Already, by some estimates, the country has deployed 40 to 60 submarines in the East China Sea, and China is rapidly modernizing this force, acquiring quieter models from Russia and developing increasingly sophisticated nuclear submarines of its own.

But lately, China has shown no such patience with Japan and has moved swiftly to warn its neighbor in unusually blunt terms that any interference with Beijing's designs over Taiwan will be dealt with forcefully. "I would like to say calmly to Japan, the Taiwan issue is a domestic affair and a matter of life or death to us," China's foreign minister, Li Zhaoxing, told his Japanese counterpart recently. "It is dangerous to touch China's matter of life or death."

Indeed, a potentially explosive tussle is already being played out over large natural gas reserves and potentially important oil reserves beneath the East China Sea. The two rivals disagree over how to draw the maritime dividing line between them in those waters. China has offered to jointly exploit the energy resources in the area, but Japan has refused. Tokyo, meanwhile, has asked China to share seismic data and other information, and more recently has unsuccessfully urged Beijing to freeze its plans to begin pumping gas.

Chinese officials refused several requests for comment on the issue, but Chinese legal experts say they worry that the situation could get out of hand. "China has given out warnings many times, using tough words, telling Japan not to take any dangerous actions that could disturb stability in the region," said Xiu Bin, an expert in international maritime law at Ocean University in Qingdao.

Tokyo recently upped the ante by granting a Japanese company, Teikoku Oil, the rights to test-drill in disputed waters. China, which has gas projects near the test-drilling areas, immediately protested.

No one watches the face-off more closely than Taiwan, which also has maritime territorial disputes with Japan, but cooperates with Japan and the United States in policing the region's waters.

"They are going to be colliding for the foreseeable future, and I don't see how you can avoid that," said Andrew Nien-Dzu Yang, director of the Chinese Council of Advanced Policy Studies, in Taipei.

Link Posted: 9/13/2005 7:28:34 AM EDT
I'd love to see those two go at it in a Navel war. The Japs are natural Sea warriers.
Link Posted: 9/13/2005 7:32:07 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 9/13/2005 7:32:58 AM EDT by hardcorps1775]
"japan's rivalry" my ass! this is chicom hegemonism in action. something interesting is going to happen soon with china and i don't mean interesting as in "neato!" but interesting as in the old chinese curse "may you live in interesting times".

they just finished a specops exercise with russia called "peace mission 2005" where "shock troops" parachuted into an objective and seized it.

do you think russia and china see some kind of opportunity to flex their muscle, that the us is weakened cuz of iraq and now katrina?

russia and india are getting ready to hold a jftx in mid-oct that is said to be the "largest ever". india is another potential us enemy...
Link Posted: 9/13/2005 7:41:20 AM EDT



Is it just me or does china remind you of the US in circa 1950?

Just look at those steel pot helmets! (That is not the only reason I believe this)
Link Posted: 9/13/2005 7:42:33 AM EDT
NOthing will happen, neither country would want to "bite the hand that feeds it," namely the USA. This stuff is a just a lot of meaningless sabre rattling.
Link Posted: 9/13/2005 7:43:45 AM EDT
I predict a arms race.
Link Posted: 9/13/2005 7:47:11 AM EDT
"japan's rivalry" my ass! this is chicom hegemonism in action. something interesting is going to happen soon with china and i don't mean interesting as in "neato!" but interesting as in the old chinese curse "may you live in interesting times".

they just finished a specops exercise with russia called "peace mission 2005" where "shock troops" parachuted into an objective and seized it.

do you think russia and china see some kind of opportunity to flex their muscle, that the us is weakened cuz of iraq and now katrina?

russia and india are getting ready to hold a jftx in mid-oct that is said to be the "largest ever". india is another potential us enemy...




No more "help" desk, or Wal-Mart. Without Yankee dollers, these people ain't shit.
Link Posted: 9/13/2005 8:17:32 AM EDT
Link Posted: 9/13/2005 8:34:21 AM EDT

Originally Posted By warlord:
NOthing will happen, neither country would want to "bite the hand that feeds it," namely the USA. This stuff is a just a lot of meaningless sabre rattling.



France and Germany were each other's largest trading partner in 1913. Economic interdependence alone will not forstall a war.
Link Posted: 9/13/2005 8:35:38 AM EDT

Originally Posted By mojo:

I would encourage Japan to build her military, Navy, and Air Force....This would help to balance out somewhat in Asia against China, and also means less personnels and resources from us in Asia. Stronger Japan, militarily, means China has to deal with at least 2 powerful players (US and Japan) and other smaller players (Taiwan, and possibly others). Stronger Japan also means a helping hand when North Korea decides to go cookoo.

Some would worry about potential problems if Japan gets too strong...just like in WW2....But why worry about potential problem in the future when emminent problem is facing us now?



Agreed. The Japanese need to build up, so that they can, at the very least, be a strong ally to us in opposing China's expansion.

The Koreans are valuable allies in this as well - they see the threat, and have been building their forces - particularly their navy - to counter it.
Link Posted: 9/13/2005 8:36:04 AM EDT

Originally Posted By GC456:
graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2005/09/11/international/11taiwan_650.jpg


Is it just me or does china remind you of the US in circa 1950?

Just look at those steel pot helmets! (That is not the only reason I believe this)



Ummm, that is a Taiwanese ship and the battle dress is virtually indistinguishable from current US Navy wear.
Link Posted: 9/13/2005 8:38:45 AM EDT

Originally Posted By GC456:
graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2005/09/11/international/11taiwan_650.jpg


Is it just me or does china remind you of the US in circa 1950?

Just look at those steel pot helmets! (That is not the only reason I believe this)



The ship is from Taiwan. NOT the same as China.


They look like US troops of the 1950s because we GAVE them all of our equipment from that time. Their M16s have A1 sights and full rock & roll setting, all of our M14 production equipment went to Taiwan, and the initial training we gave them was from the 1950s era. They haven't progressed much since, except for maybe the F-16s that they bought.
Link Posted: 9/13/2005 8:51:57 AM EDT
Don't fret too much for the rising sun, Japan would give the chi-coms all they wanted in a fight and without our help. Japan is a top 10 military force.
Link Posted: 9/13/2005 8:54:28 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 9/13/2005 8:57:11 AM EDT by phatmax]

Originally Posted By mojo:

I would encourage Japan to build her military, Navy, and Air Force....This would help to balance out somewhat in Asia against China, and also means less personnels and resources from us in Asia. Stronger Japan, militarily, means China has to deal with at least 2 powerful players (US and Japan) and other smaller players (Taiwan, and possibly others). Stronger Japan also means a helping hand when North Korea decides to go cookoo.

Some would worry about potential problems if Japan gets too strong...just like in WW2....But why worry about potential problem in the future when emminent problem is facing us now?



They Japanese will never have a big military again. They have been turned into a bunch of socialized, pacifist fools.

ETA: What Cole said above is partially true, but to have a great military you do need popular support. If the Chinese go hog-wild, there is going to be LOTS of dead bodies, and the only place to get replacements is the general population. Most japanese kids are to involved in shitty exported American "culture" (if you can call 50 Cent culture).
Link Posted: 9/13/2005 12:52:04 PM EDT
Link Posted: 9/13/2005 12:56:41 PM EDT

Originally Posted By uncle_frank:
I'd love to see those two go at it in a Navel war. The Japs are natural Sea warriers.


Naval
Japanese
Sea Warriors
Link Posted: 9/13/2005 1:00:16 PM EDT

Originally Posted By uncle_frank:
I'd love to see those two go at it in a Navel war. The Japs are natural Sea warriers.



Nothing like watching China squish them.

Lots of hot air, which is good.
Link Posted: 9/13/2005 7:58:33 PM EDT
That was an excellent article. Thanks for it.

Re: Taiwan "not having progressed much since the 1950s."

Hmm. Taiwan:

1) Widely believed to possess nuclear weapons as a result of collaboration with Israel and South Africa.

2) Was able to develop successful indigenous fighter program in the 90s, but development stalled because F-16s and Mirage 2000s became available. This isn't something like the AMX, or a Marut, but the start of a fairly competent short range fighter.

3) Buying military systems as they are made available such as Spruance class destroyers.

How exactly do these developments substantiate your claim?

I myself have reservations about Taiwan's abilities to defend itself, as their military tradition comes from the KMT, which has a proud history of being a collossal waste of materiel and resources.

But simply saying that "Taiwan is the much the same as it was in the 1950s" is not supported by their current military.



Link Posted: 9/13/2005 9:24:30 PM EDT

Originally Posted By Ustulina:
2) Was able to develop successful indigenous fighter program in the 90s, but development stalled because F-16s and Mirage 2000s became available.



The only thing "successful" about the IDF program was that the plane could get off the ground, circle around a bit, and land back down. As much as Taiwan seems "high tech," their only good for manufacturing, not design.
Link Posted: 9/13/2005 9:33:50 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 9/13/2005 9:36:04 PM EDT by Ustulina]
That is your assertion. However, the assessment of Aviation Weekly and Space Technology in the early 90s was that the Ching Kuo was to that point the most successful of the non-US and non-Soviet bloc aircraft under development at that time. If I recall correctly, this included the JAS-39 Gripen, which has seen some success as an export item. Gotta say, I bet that AW/ST was more up on that stuff than you are.

In any case, I think that any reasonable observer who notes that in the 50s:

1) Taiwan did not possess nuclear capability
2) Spruance class destroyers
3) the capability of developing a combat aircraft

4) were using Garands and flamethrowers in exercises
5) were engaged in lobbing 155mm shells across the strait from Quemoy at the Communists
6) were operating F-86 Sabres

would conclude that at least in terms of systems, the Taiwanese defense forces have evolved.

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