Chinese Peoples Liberation Army Navy Fleet Sets for West Pacific Training

A Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Navy fleet has set off from a military port in east China’s Qingdao City for regular open-sea training in the West Pacific Ocean, military sources revealed Wednesday.

The fleet departed Tuesday morning and comprises three ships — the missile destroyer Qingdao and the missile frigates Yantai and Yancheng — carrying three helicopters, all from the North China Sea Fleet under the PLA Navy.

During the voyage, the fleet is scheduled to conduct multi-program training sessions in the sea area where China has been carrying out regular patrols, according to the sources.

Tian Zhong, the fleet commander, said in an interview with Xinhua that conducting training in international waters is normal practice among various navies around the world, as well as part of China’s regular efforts to improve the PLA Navy’s combat capabilities.

The fleet aims to boost its capabilities in carrying out diversified military missions through the open-sea training, according to Tian.

The fleet will conduct more than 20 types of exercises, including maritime confrontation, open-sea mobile combat, law enforcement missions and open-sea naval commanding.

The training area will include the Yellow, East China and South China seas, the Miyako Strait, the Bashi Channel and the sea area east of Taiwan.

As part of the ongoing open-sea training, the fleet held a four-hour maritime confrontation drill in the Yellow Sea on Tuesday with another PLA Navy fleet set to depart for escort missions in sea areas off Somalia.

The missile destroyer Qingdao and the missile frigates Yantai and Yancheng are all domestically-produced capital ships of the PLA Navy.

The Qingdao, which is among China’s second-generation missile destroyers, was commissioned in 1993 and has taken part in more than 50 key missions, including escort missions in the Gulf of Aden. It has a displacement of 4,800 tonnes.

In 2002, as a commanding ship of a Chinese fleet, the vessel completed the PLA Navy’s first global voyage.

The Yantai and Yancheng, among China’s newest type of missile frigates, were commissioned by the North China Sea Fleet in 2011 and 2012, respectively. They both have a displacement of 4,050 tonnes.

Also on Wednesday, the defense ministry announced in a statement that a Chinese navy fleet will conduct a training exercise in the Pacific after sailing through the island chain.

The statement from the ministry’s information office said it is a regular arrangement in line with the navy’s annual training plan, adding that the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy conducted seven similar training exercises last year.

Japan sends in F-15s after China flies over disputed islands

The territorial standoff between China and Japan over disputed islands in the East China Sea further escalated today after a Chinese plane was spotted in what Tokyo considers its airspace.

Though the Chinese plane was not a military aircraft, its presence is the latest provocation in a dispute that has affected economic relations between the two countries and comes just three days before Japanese elections.

The Chinese state maritime agency said that the marine surveillance plane was sent to patrol the disputed islands – known as Diaoyu in China and Senkaku in Japan – along with four boats, according to China’s Global Times. Japanese boats also patrolling the disputed area were asked to leave immediately, in line with the Chinese government’s stance, the Global Times reports.

Read the rest of the story: Japan scrambles F-15s after China flies over disputed islands.

Japan Economy Shrinks, Recession?

Japans economy shrank in the September quarter for the first time since last year, adding to signs that slowing global growth and tensions with China are nudging the worlds third-largest economy into recession.

The 0.9 percent fall in GDP was in line with expectations, although a decline in capital expenditure was much steeper than forecast. Sony Corp and Panasonic Corp have slashed spending plans to cope with massive losses as they struggle with competitive markets and a strong yen.

The fall in GDP translated into an annualized rate of decline of 3.5 percent, government data showed on Monday. While U.S. growth showed a modest pick up in the third quarter, Japan and the euro zone economies are shrinking.

Read the rest of the story: Japan economy shrinks, points to recession.

Japan and China to hold talks on islands

Japanese and Chinese vice-ministers will hold talks soon in a bid to resolve a bitter row over disputed islands that has severely damaged ties between the Asian giants, a report says.

Senior officials from the Japanese and Chinese foreign ministries agreed at a meeting in Tokyo on Thursday that the discussions would take place, Kyodo news agency reported, citing the Japanese foreign ministry.

The report did not say when the talks would take place, or which vice-ministers would be involved.

It came the same day that IMF chief Christine Lagarde said China would “lose out” by not sending its finance minister and central bank chief to global economic talks in Japan this week.

Read the rest of the story: Japan, China to hold talks on islands.

Japanese Coast Guard Shoots Water Cannons to Turn Away Taiwan Boats

Japanese Coast Guard vessels fired water cannon to turn away about 40 Taiwan fishing boats and eight Taiwan Coast Guard vessels from waters Japan considers its own on Tuesday in the latest twist to a row between Tokyo and Beijing.

Japan protested to Taiwan, a day after it lodged a complaint with China over what it said was a similar intrusion by Chinese boats.

Sino-Japanese relations deteriorated sharply this month after Japan bought disputed East China Sea islands, called Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China, from their private owner, sparking anti-Japan protests across China.

Read the rest of the story: Japan fires water cannon to turn away Taiwan boats.

US Treaty with Japan Covers Islets in China Spat

The uninhabited islets in the East China Sea at the center of a bitter dispute between China and Japan are “clearly” covered by a 1960 security treaty obliging the United States to come to Japans aid if attacked, a top U.S. diplomat said on Thursday.

“We do not take a position on the ultimate sovereignty of these islands,” Kurt Campbell, assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, told a U.S. Senate Foreign Relations subcommittee.

Japan has controlled the rocky islets since 1895 – except during the 1945-1972 U.S. post-war occupation of Okinawa – and calls them the Senkakus. China, and rival Taiwan, maintain they have an older claim and call them the Diaoyu islands.

“We do acknowledge clearly … that Japan maintains effective administrative control … and, as such, this falls clearly under Article 5 of the Security Treaty,” Campbell said at the panels hearing on Asian territorial disputes.

Read the rest of the story: Treaty with Japan covers islets in China spat – US official.

Japan Opposition Party Candidates Vow to Protect Islands

Four lawmakers vying for leadership of Japan’s main opposition party have promised to protect Japan’s control of islands at the center of a territorial furor with China.

Former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe blasted China at a press conference Wednesday after anti-Japanese riots flared across China. He says that if Beijing can’t protect Japanese living in China it “should not enjoy membership in the international society.”

The conservative Liberal Democratic Party chooses a leader Sept. 26. The winner may become prime minister if the LDP wins elections that the prime minister has said he will call soon.

Former defense chief Shigeru Ishiba says that “losing a piece of the territory eventually means losing the whole country.”

A fifth candidate, Nobutaka Machimura, was hospitalized Tuesday for exhaustion but remains in the race.

Read the rest of the story: Japan opposition candidates vow to protect islands.

China says tensions with Japan likely to hurt trade

Rising tension between China and Japan over disputed islands is likely to harm their trade ties, a senior Chinese commerce official said on Thursday.

Asia’s two largest economies both claim islands in the East China Sea and tensions have flared since Tuesday when Tokyo announced it would purchase disputed islands from a private Japanese owner, an act that Beijing has called a violation of its sovereignty.

Chinese Vice Minister of Commerce Jiang Zengwei added to the volley of warnings from Beijing.

“With Japan’s so-called purchase of the islands, it will be hard to avoid negative consequences for Sino-Japanese economic and trade ties,” Jiang told a news briefing.

China is Japan’s largest trading partner.

Read the rest of the story: China says tensions with Japan likely to hurt trade.

Japan Infuriates China – Agrees to Buy Disputed Islands from It’s Private Owners

Japan has agreed to buy a group of islands disputed with China from their private owners, a government official said on Monday, prompting an angry rebuke from China a day after Chinese President Hu Jintao warned against such an “illegal” move.

Japan aimed to nationalize the uninhabited islands in the East China Sea as soon as possible to control them in a peaceful and stable manner, Chief Cabinet Secretary Osamu Fujimura said.

The islands, called Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China, are near rich fishing grounds and potentially huge maritime gas fields and have been at the heart of long-running territorial disputes between the world’s second and third-largest economies.

Read the rest of the story: Japan infuriates China by agreeing to buy disputed isles.