• China warns Japan not to ‘play with fire’ in SChina Sea

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    BEIJING: China on Thursday warned Japan against “playing with fire” in the contested waters of the South China Sea, after Tokyo announced it may patrol alongside the US in the region.

    China also sent fighter planes for the first time over a strait near Japan on Monday as part of a group of more than 40 jets headed to train in the West Pacific.

    The move followed remarks by Japanese Defense Minister Tomomi Inada this month that Tokyo would increase its engagement in the South China Sea through joint training with the US Navy, exercises with regional navies and capacity-building assistance to coastal nations.

    The Chinese defense ministry said the aim of the announcement was “to mess up the South China Sea situation and try to gain interests from the troubled waters.”

    “If Japan wants to conduct any joint patrol or joint exercises in waters administered by China, it is just like playing with fire, and the Chinese military will not sit and watch,” ministry spokesman Yang Yujun told a regular press briefing.

    Beijing asserts sovereignty over almost all of the South China Sea, dismissing rival partial claims from its Southeast Asian neighbors. It rejects any intervention by Japan in the waterway.

    In recent months Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has criticized China for rejecting a July ruling by an international tribunal, which said Beijing’s extensive claims to the waters had no legal basis.

    Tokyo, a key US ally, is also strengthening defense ties with other countries in the disputed region. Japan and China are already at loggerheads over a longstanding territorial row in the East China Sea.

    That dispute relates to uninhabited islets controlled by Japan known as the Senkakus in Japanese and the Diaoyus in Chinese. AFP

    AFP/CC

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    1 Comment

    1. Yonkers, New York
      29 September

      These Chinese warnings against Japan will very likely fall on deaf ears. If China thinks that Japanese PM Senzo Abe will cringe, it is making a very bad mistake.

      On the other hand, it could expect Japan to defy China by asking the United States to hold these joint naval exercises in the South China Sea earlier than originally planned–and possibly on a larger scale.

      More likely than not, the US will only be too willing to agree with that suggestion.

      The ongoing US FREEDOM OF NAVIGATION OPERATIONS in international waters in the South China Sea are more than enough to counter China’s hegemonic designs there. But if Japan cooperates with the US there and its Navy joins the US FONOPS, the situation will turn into an “overkill.” China must know this and explains why it is squawking loud and clear.

      MARIANO PATALINJUG
      patalinjugmar@gmail.co