After a series of bulletins on ship deployments into the sea, launch of new warships, naval combat exercises and editorials urging the Chinese government to defend the country’s territory unyieldingly, maritime strategy expert at the Newport, Rhode Island U.S. Naval War College James Holmes believes that the goal of China “is to wear out the Japanese Maritime Self Defense Force and the Japan Coast Guard.”
China’s secretive military only opened up last year when the territorial dispute with Japan over the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands got ugly. Now, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) is routinely making its presence known around the area. According to political analysts, news about the operations also has domestic propaganda value because it shows that the ruling Communist Party is powerful enough and unwavering in defending what it says to be Chinese territory. However, experts point out the danger of increased deployments, not just by China but also by Japan. The more ships are floating out there in the seas, the bigger the chances that accidents could occur, which could then lead to an even bigger squabble, or even all-out open war.
Nonetheless, a number of foreign and Japanese security experts believe that Japan’s navy and coast guard are still powerful enough to have the upper hand in the disputed waters. This could change though if China continues to intensify its patrols. Yoshihiko Yamada, a maritime policy expert and professor at Tokai University, said, “I believe China for the time being focuses resources on the South China Sea, which is a higher priority for them now. But, if they shift more resources to the East China Sea, the coast guard alone would not be able to handle the situation.”[via The West]