In this article in the Asia Times, Peter J. Brown documents a recent naval exercise by the People’s Liberation Army Navy within 150 miles of Okinawa. The exercise was a surprise to the Japanese and not a pleasant one.
In mid-April, two Japanese Maritime Self Defense Force (MSDF) destroyers, the Choukai and Suzunami, unexpectedly encountered several Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) warships, including a pair of submarines and eight destroyers, approximately 140 kilometers west-southwest of Okinawa near the Nansei (Ryukyu) Islands. …. They were there to practice anti-submarine warfare, underway refueling and helicopter flight training, to name a few of the procedures. During one PLAN helicopter flight, the Suzunami was subjected to a close encounter which prompted a formal protest by Japan’s SDF Joint Staff Office. The presence of the PLAN subs also sparked a protest. Japan’s Defense Minister Kitazawa Toshimi was upset that so many Chinese warships had sailed so near to Japan on their way to the western Pacific Ocean without any prior notification by China.
Please read the entire article for important additional information.
Analysis. The People’s Republic of China is not our friend. It is our adversary. In the end, we will probably realize that all roads from Tehran, Islamabad, Yangon, Pyongyang and a few other trouble spots all lead to Beijing. This is the same situation where almost all of the terror organizations of the 1960-1990s were all supplied and coordinated by the KGB from the Lubyanka. No secret there. I doubt that the coordination of everything from Muslim extremists to the Naxalites, the Communist Party of the Philippines, and many other organizations would surprise anybody. It wouldn’t surprise me at all.
Take a look at the geography for a minute. When Iran becomes a nuclear power (barring action by Israel, the GCC States or the United States) it will control the oil resources of the Middle East. That is forty percent of the World’s current recognized oil shipments. Pakistan already is a nuclear power. It is vying with India for control of the sub-continent and also for control of the Indian Ocean. If Myanmar becomes a nuclear power it controls the Bay of Bengal to the Straits of Malacca. The PLA Navy will then control the shipping routes from the Straits of Malacca to Dalien from their naval facilities on (and in) Hainan Island. Beijing’s oil supplies will be assured.
And Taiwan will be isolated. The PLA Navy knows it only has to control the seas some 300 miles to the east of Taiwan to isolate it from any possibility of help. The F-18 has a finite range. We only have 11 carrier battle groups total and generally only 7 available world wide with three to four in various phases of maintenance and refit at any given time. That is really not a lot considering the area they must patrol. Nor are we likely to begin a massive naval construction program to bring our Navy back to the 600 ships of the Cold War.
Right now we are preoccupied with the Middle East and Iran. It is not that we are ignoring the PRC. But their activities are not getting a lot of ink because everybody is worried about who will blink first on the plains of Meggido. We cannot afford to have tunnel vision on Tehran. There are other things happening as well.