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9 mars 2015 1 09 /03 /mars /2015 17:35
China overtakes North Korea as Japan's top security concern

Japanese people are more concerned about China's military strength and assertiveness in Asia than any other security issue, according to a public opinion poll released by the government at the weekend.


9 Mar 2015 businesstimes.com.sg


[TOKYO] Japanese people are more concerned about China's military strength and assertiveness in Asia than any other security issue, according to a public opinion poll released by the government at the weekend.


More than 60 per cent of respondents to the survey conducted in January said China concerned them, compared with 46 per cent in a similar poll three years earlier. The number worried about North Korea fell to about 53 per cent from around 65 per cent.


Asia's two largest economies are at loggerheads over uninhabited islands in the East China Sea, with ships and planes from both countries frequently criss-crossing near the disputed area. North Korea is developing atomic and ballistic missile technology, though it hasn't held a nuclear test since 2013.


"There is a lack of transparency in China's military and security policy, including about the budget," Defence Minister Gen Nakatani told reporters on Friday. "We want to continue to seek disclosure from China."


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2 avril 2014 3 02 /04 /avril /2014 16:35
Choppy East China Seas



4/1/2014 Strategy Page


EAST CHINA SEA (March 30, 2014) An MV-22 Osprey tiltrotor aircraft assigned to Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron (VMM) 265 takes off from the amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6). Bonhomme Richard is assigned to Expeditionary Strike Group Seven and is participating in Exercise Ssang Yong, an annual combined exercise conducted by Navy and Marine forces with the Republic of Korea in order to strengthen interoperability across the range of military operations. (U.S. Navy video by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Christian Senyk)

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28 novembre 2013 4 28 /11 /novembre /2013 18:35
Establishment by China of an 'East China Sea Air Defence Identification Zone'


Brussels, 28 November 2013 EEAS 17082/13(OR. en) PRESSE 514


Declaration by the High Representative Catherine Ashton on behalf of the European Union on the establishment by China of an 'East China Sea Air Defence Identification Zone'


The EU is concerned to learn of China's decision to establish an 'East China Sea Air Defence Identification Zone' as well as the accompanying announcement by the Chinese Ministry of Defence of "emergency defence measures" in case of non-compliance. This development heightens the risk of escalation and contributes to raising tensions in the region. The EU calls on all sides to exercise caution and restraint.


With its significant interests in the region, the EU is following these developments closely. The legitimate use of sea and airspace are rights enshrined in international law and are essential for security, stability and prosperity. Actions that bring or appear to bring these rights into question are not conducive to finding lasting solutions to the differences that exist in East Asia's maritime areas. The EU calls upon all parties to take steps to calm the situation, to promote trust building measures and reach out diplomatically to seek peaceful, cooperative solutions according to international law, in order to defuse tensions and resolve differences constructively.

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25 novembre 2013 1 25 /11 /novembre /2013 17:35
East China Sea Air Defence Identification Zone

East China Sea Air Defence Identification Zone



25 novembre 2013 Romandie.com (AFP)


PEKIN - Pékin a annoncé lundi la convocation de l'ambassadeur du Japon pour lui signifier sa désapprobation après les vives protestions de Tokyo contre la zone aérienne d'identification décrétée samedi par la Chine et incluant des îles disputées par les deux pays.


Les responsables du ministère chinois des Affaires étrangères ont convoqué l'ambassadeur japonais en Chine pour lui exprimer le fort mécontentement de la Chine et sa protestation solennelle face aux exagérations irrationnelles de Tokyo, a indiqué Qin Gang, porte-parole du ministère.


Il est complètement hors de propos pour le Japon de faire des remarques irresponsables sur l'établissement par la Chine d'une zone d'identification de défense aérienne, a-t-il ajouté, alors qu'il s'exprimait durant un point de presse régulier.


De son côté, le Japon a convoqué lundi l'ambassadeur chinois à Tokyo, Cheng Yonghua, quelques heures après une déclaration du Premier ministre nippon Shinzo Abe qui a qualifié la décision chinoise de dangereuse.


Samedi, le ministère chinois de la défense avait annoncé la création de cette zone, précisant que tous les avions la traversant devraient fournir un plan de vol précis, afficher clairement leur nationalité, et être en mesure de répondre rapidement aux requêtes des autorités chinoises, sous peine d'intervention des forces armées.


Selon la carte diffusée par Pékin, le tracé de la zone en question couvre une grande partie de la mer de Chine orientale, entre la Corée du Sud et Taiwan, et englobe l'archipel des Senkaku, des îles inhabitées sous contrôle japonais mais revendiquées par Pékin sous le nom de Diaoyu.


Le ministre japonais des Affaires étrangères Fumio Kishida avait déclaré dimanche que ce geste unilatéral renforçait le danger d'événements imprévisibles dans la zone.


Tokyo a clairement indiqué qu'il n'entendait pas se plier à cette zone d'identification qui n'a aucune validité pour le Japon, selon le ministre des Affaires étrangères.


Préoccupés par cette escalade alors qu'ils veulent faire de l'Asie le pivot de leur diplomatie, les Etats-Unis, principal allié et protecteur du Japon, ont dénoncé une décision unilatérale de la Chine et mis en garde contre le risque d'un incident.


Depuis plus d'un an, les relations sino-japonaises sont au plus bas en raison du différend territorial autour des Senkaku, qui s'est envenimé après la nationalisation par Tokyo en septembre 2012 de trois des cinq îles de l'archipel.

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23 septembre 2013 1 23 /09 /septembre /2013 07:35
Osprey vs. Bison in the East China Sea

September 22, 2013 Richard D. Fisher, Jr. - thediplomat.com


China, Japan and the U.S. are ramping up their ability to deploy to disputed islands in the East China Sea.


Stability in the region between Taiwan and Japan, and the security of Taiwan, hinges on an arms race that will soon be accompanying the heightened paramilitary engagements between Japanese, Chinese and, occasionally, Taiwanese Coast Guard ships over who will control the disputed Senkaku/Diaoyu islands in the East China Sea.


For now this contest for control is confined to shoving matches largely between Chinese and Japanese Coast Guard ships, which take several days to deploy. However, China is now developing the means to project decisive force to these islands in hours, not days. Should China gain the upper hand in this arms race there is a greater chance it will use force to occupy the islands and then set its sights on the strategically more attractive nearby Sakashima island group.


For now, though, the upper hand is held by the United States, which has just completed the initial deployment of 24 U.S. Marine Corps Bell-Boeing MV-22B Osprey conventional, or twin tilt rotor aircraft, to Futenma Base in Okinawa. This unique aircraft, by virtue of its twisting rotors and engines at the ends of its wing, can take off like a helicopter, and then cruise at about 280 miles per hour, carrying up to 24 troops or about six tons of cargo to a range sufficient to reach the disputed islands. In a full-out surge, the 24 MV-22Bs at Futenma could potentially put about 500 troops or about 140 tons of weapons and material on the Senkakus or the Sakashimas in about one hour.


On September 17, 2013, Kyodo reported thatcurrent commander of U.S. Marine forces on Okinawa, Lt. General John Wissler, told Okinawa Governor Hirokazu Nakaimu about the Osprey, “That aircraft has the ability to reach the Senkakus, should we need to support any sort of Japan-U.S. security treaty.”


China is also accumulating rapid lift assets. The People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) has taken delivery of the first Ukrainian-built Zubr (Bison) large hovercraft. The first example, delivered in May, is now undergoing final modifications in Shanghai. At least three more are expected initially, but China may build many more of an indigenous version. Developed by the former Soviet Union to give its Naval Infantry the ability to rapidly invade NATO countries along the Baltic Sea, the Zubr can lift about 500 troops or up to 150 tons of armor, weapons and material up to speeds of 66 miles per hour. With just four Zubr hovercraft, the PLAN could potentially put 2,000 troops or up to 600 tons of weapons and material on the Senkakus in about four to five hours, or it could reach the island of Miyako-jima in about six to seven hours with a much reduced payload.


If it actually came to a race between the Osprey and the Bison, getting there first would make all the difference, as without the advantage of surprise, an adequately armed defender could significantly damage incoming hovercraft or helicopters. But the outcome would also depend on the result of intensive air and sea battles around these islands. For now, the superior performance of the U.S. Lockheed-Martin F-22A fifth-generation fighter and the Virginia class nuclear-powered attack submarine provide a margin of superiority that undergirds deterrence, but this could change quickly as the PLA Air Force increases the number of capable fourth-generation fighters supported by AWACS radar aircraft, followed by fifth-generation fighters that could even the odds, especially if China decides to strike first. Growing numbers of PLAN air defense destroyers like the new Type 052D could also help deny air dominance to Japanese and U.S. forces.


However, China could also gain the upper hand should it successfully develop its own tilt rotor aircraft, an ambition it likely has been pursuing for most of the last decade. In a surprising revelation, an article published August 28, 2013 on the web page of the China Helicopter Research and Development Institute (CHRDI) goes further, saying that China is now developing a quad tiltrotor design called the Blue Whale, with the goal of carrying 20 tons of cargo at speeds in excess of 300 miles per hour, with a combat radius of 500 miles. A model of the Blue Whale appeared at a Chinese helicopter technology expo recently held in Tianjin, at least confirming it is an active program.


Blue Whale’s performance goals are very close to a now lapsed Bell-Boeing program to develop a V-44 Quad TiltRotor, which faded with evolving heavy-lift requirements for the U.S. Army’s Future Combat System of programs, in turn cancelled in 2009. CHRDI does not reveal when they expect the Blue Whale to enter service or how China will overcome technical challenges for a quad tiltrotor that a 2005 U.S. Defense Science Board study said would take 20 to 25 years to overcome. By 2008 to 2009 the heavy lift program was punted to the U.S. Air Force-controlled Joint Future Theater Lift program, intended to develop a replacement for the venerable Lockheed-Martin C-130, perhaps by the late 2020s. China may think it can succeed with a quad tiltrotor design before the U.S. fields a new vertical heavy lifter. The operational implications of such a capability go well beyond the East China Sea, but may matter there sooner.


For Beijing, control of the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands and the much larger Sakashima Islands, which have ports and airfields, is not simply a matter of salving historical resentments or even controlling resources; it is a contest for geostrategic position to influence the future of democratic Taiwan. From the Senkakus and especially the Sakashimas, the PLA can more easily impose an air and sea blockade on Taiwan or launch multi-axis attacks to rapidly take airfields to aid follow-on invasion forces. Before making any military moves, mere possession of these islands allows Beijing to exert far greater political pressure on Taipei to make “peace” at the expense of its virtual American ally and Tokyo. Occupation of the islands would also give Beijing greater legitimacy on which to develop latent claims to other islands in the Ryukyu chain.


The Miyako Strait in the Sakashimas also must be passed by Chinese naval forces trying to reach the Pacific Ocean. This group of seemingly negligible islands are in fact the lock in the door that keeps the PLA Navy from cruising the Pacific at will, a key link in the so-called “First Island Chain.” For Tokyo and Washington, preserving Japanese control over these islands proves to Beijing that it cannot use force to solve maritime territory disputes, but also gives Japanese and U.S. forces a large number of island base options from which to counter China’s rapidly growing air and naval forces.


At a time when Washington is far more preoccupied with preserving adequate strategic capabilities under threat from sequestration-enforced defense budget reductions, an expensive heavy-lift tiltrotor development program, like so many other programs, has crossed the line from “need” to “needless luxury.” But the absence of this level of capability may have consequences. Without the means to put decisive counter-invasion forces on these islands at a moment’s notice, Japan will have to consider something it has been very reluctant to do: militarize these islands. Tokyo is already considering the development of a 500 km short-range ballistic missile to defend these distant islands. Missiles, of course, fly much faster than the Osprey. On one level, China’s looming threat justifies such moves, but deploying missiles will encourage China’s buildup as well as anti-Japan factions in Taipei.


Despite its much advertised military and political-economic pivot/rebalance toward Asia, it remains an uncomfortable fact for Washington that successful military deterrence of Beijing will also require that the U.S. remain ahead in a growing, multi-faceted arms race. In the East China Sea this arms race and its implications are taking shape rather rapidly.


Richard D. Fisher, Jr. is a Senior Fellow with the International Assessment and Strategy Center and author of China’s Military Modernization, Building for Regional and Global Reach, (Stanford, 2010)

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