Ja­pan warns China over ‘ter­ri­to­rial ag­gres­sion’

The Myanmar Times - - World -

BEI­JING risks trig­ger­ing un­in­tended con­flict with Asian ri­vals through its ag­gres­sive stance in mar­itime dis­putes, Ja­pan warned yes­ter­day in an an­nual se­cu­rity assess­ment.

China’s sweep­ing claims over the strate­gic South China Sea, where it has built a series of ar­ti­fi­cial is­lands ca­pa­ble of sup­port­ing mil­i­tary oper­a­tions de­spite over­lap­ping claims from other na­tions, have stoked in­ter­na­tional alarm.

The re­gion’s su­per­power “con­tin­ues to act in an as­sertive man­ner” and its ac­tions “in­clude dan­ger­ous acts that could cause un­in­tended con­se­quences”, Tokyo said in a de­fence white pa­per.

Bei­jing is un­der pres­sure to re­spect a UN-backed tri­bunal’s find­ing last month that there is no legal ba­sis for its am­bi­tions over the re­source-rich South China Sea where the Philippines, Viet­nam, Malaysia and oth­ers also lay claims.

The white pa­per said China was “poised to ful­fil its uni­lat­eral de­mands with­out com­pro­mise” in­clud­ing ef­forts “to turn these co­er­cive changes to the sta­tus quo into a fait ac­com­pli”.

And it again called on Bei­jing to abide by the rul­ing of the tri­bunal, which China has de­nounced as a fraud it would ig­nore.

Ja­pan also ex­pressed con­cern over in­creased ac­tiv­ity in the East China Sea, where the two coun­tries have com­pet­ing claims over a group of small un­in­hab­ited islets called the Senkaku in Ja­pan and the Diaoyu in China.

“Re­cently, China has been in­ten­si­fy­ing ac­tiv­i­ties near the Senkaku Is­lands, such as its mil­i­tary air­craft fly­ing south­ward closer to the is­lands,” it said.

“In the year to March 2016, Ja­pan’s air force scram­bled jets 571 times against Chi­nese planes fly­ing near Ja­panese air space, an in­crease of 107 from the pre­vi­ous year.”

In June, Ja­pan ac­cused China of send­ing a spy ship into its ter­ri­to­rial wa­ters as Tokyo con­ducted a joint ex­er­cise with the US and In­dia.

Last month the two na­tions were at log­ger­heads over ac­cu­sa­tions Ja­panese war­planes locked their fire con­trol radar onto Chi­nese air­craft.

Bei­jing sparked alarm after it uni­lat­er­ally es­tab­lished an air de­fence iden­ti­fi­ca­tion zone in the East China Sea in 2013, de­mand­ing all air­craft sub­mit flight plans when travers­ing the zone which cov­ers is­lands dis­puted with Tokyo and also claimed by Taipei.

US De­fence Sec­re­tary Ashton Carter said in Fe­bru­ary that China’s mil­i­tary pres­ence in the South China Sea was in­creas­ing the risk of “mis­cal­cu­la­tion or con­flict” be­tween re­gional coun­tries.

A US war­ship in May sailed close to a dis­puted reef Bei­jing has built up into an ar­ti­fi­cial is­land, prompt­ing China to ex­press “dis­sat­is­fac­tion and op­po­si­tion”.

Ja­pan’s white pa­per also high­lighted con­cerns over North Korea’s nu­clear pro­gram, say­ing it was pos­si­ble it has “achieved the minia­tur­i­sa­tion of nu­clear weapons and has de­vel­oped nu­clear war­heads”.

Since car­ry­ing out a fourth nu­clear test in Jan­uary, North Korea has claimed it minia­turised a nu­clear war­head to fit on a mis­sile and suc­cess­fully tested an en­gine de­signed for an in­ter-con­ti­nen­tal bal­lis­tic mis­sile that could reach the US main­land. –

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