Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying stated at a press briefing on Wednesday that the Beijing government had no knowledge of a patrol ship’s use of weapons-targeting radar on a Japanese Self-Defense Force vessel, and only learned of the incident itself from various media reports. When the topic was brought up, Hua responded that she wasn’t “aware of the specifics,” and to “please refer to competent Chinese authorities.” This seems to strongly indicate that the Chinese government is lacking control over, or at least in poor communication with, its military.
The use of radar by China patrol ships in the waters near the disputed Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands took place twice in January, but was only revealed by Tokyo this week. Both Japanese Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe have strongly condemned that incidents, calling them “extremely abnormal” and saying it was “dangerous and provocative.” Interestingly spokeswoman Hua followed up on Thursday with comments about Japan “hyping up” the radar incident, and using it to “smear China’s image,” a quick turn around by someone who wasn’t competent enough on the matter to discuss it only one day before.
Likewise, the Chinese media China Daily reported on Thursday morning that Tokyo was dramatically hyping the use of weapons radar in order to stir up “political drama” over the “Chinese threat.” The publication wrote that an expert said the use of radar to lock on was a common reconnaissance practice in regular missions, and that the other side often does the same in response. Observers have repeatedly commented that the situation that took place with the radar in January could very easily be mis-interpreted and result in an exchange of fire. Who was this “expert” that said such actions are ordinary? Jiang Xinfeng, a Chinese expert on Japanese studies at the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Academy of Military Sciences.