by John Galt
September 25, 2016 20:30 ET
Earlier today, the Chinese government used their joint naval exercise with the Russian Navy to send a message to Japan by flying 8 aircraft into the disputed region around Okinawa and the Senkaku Islands. Needless to say the Japanese media exhibited the government’s displeasure (via NHK):
Japanese defense officials say 8 Chinese military planes flew off Okinawa, southern Japan, on Sunday, going back and forth between the East China Sea and the Pacific.
They say fighters from Japan’s Air Self-Defense Force scrambled. The Chinese aircraft did not violate Japan’s airspace.
According to the Defense Ministry in Tokyo, the 8 aircraft flew between Okinawa’s main island and Miyako Island in the southwestern prefecture, from the East China Sea to the Pacific. They later made a U-turn and flew back to the East China Sea.
The pilots of the Japanese planes that scrambled say that 2 of the Chinese aircraft were fighters. The other aircraft were 4 H6 bombers and 2 intelligence- gathering aircraft: one of them was a TU-154 and the other was a Y-8.
Defense officials say this is the first time that Chinese fighter planes have passed through this area.
They also say this is the first time since April that Chinese military planes have flown there.
The Defense Ministry is analyzing the purpose of the flights.
Meanwhile the version of the story from the South China Morning Post had one very interesting quote which sums up the truth behind this action:
China’s air force sent an unusually large fleet of fighter jets and bombers through the Miyako Strait near Japan’s Okinawa Island for exercises on Sunday, the second time it has headed to the Western Pacific this month.
Analysts said the sabre-rattling was meant as a strong message to Tokyo, after Japan’s new defence minister vowed to step up its military presence in the disputed South China Sea in joint training patrols with the United States.
While Japan is going to up their pace of patrols and joint exercises with the U.S., China has made it abundantly clear this past Friday where their policy is heading (from The People’s Daily in China):
10:45, September 23, 2016
Patrols in the South China Sea by Chinese Air Force jets have become a “regular” practice to improve their combat readiness, an air force spokesperson said on Thursday.
People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Air Force spokesperson Shen Jinke was quoted by China News Service as saying that they sent H-6K bombers and other aircraft, including fighters, scouts and tankers to patrol islands and reefs in July.
The air force aims to simulate a combat environment over the sea, improve combat readiness against security threats and protect national sovereignty and security, Shen said.
He added regular air patrols will be conducted over the South China Sea.
In July, the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague ruled against China’s claims to territory within the so-called nine-dash line. China refused to participate in the arbitration and considers the tribunal’s decision “null and void” with no legally binding force.
Shen said the air force will also “regularize” offshore drills beyond the First Island Chain. Since March 2015, PLA aircraft have flown beyond the chain five times to train in the western Pacific Ocean.
The H-6K bombers also patrolled China’s Air Defense Identification Zone over the East China Sea. The air force will maintain air patrols over the zone, without targeting any country, said Shen.
The bottom line is that China, with the backing of Russia, is no longer going to accept American hegemony over the region and will push the Japanese to drop their claims over the Senkaku Islands. Unfortunately for American policymakers, Beijing has correctly identified that President Obama and his Pentagon is indeed a lame duck paper tiger which is incapable of any meaningful action in the region no matter how far the Chinese government wishes to push the issue. I look for greater incursions into Japanese airspace in the weeks ahead as the U.S. election draws closer, so as to illustrate just how weak the Obama regime has been.