Friday, April 30, 2010

China, er, swims up

Wired has an interesting post about how the Chinese Navy (The People's Liberation Army Navy) has been stepping up its game in the last year:
The South China Morning Post recently reported that destroyers, frigates, and auxiliary ships from the North Sea Fleet (based in Qingdao) passed through the Bashi Strait between the Philippines and Taiwan to conduct a major “confrontation exercise” in the South China Sea. A few days later, Sovremenny guided missile destroyers, frigates, and submarines from the East Sea Fleet (based in Ningbo) passed through Japan’s Miyako Strait without warning Tokyo and conducted anti-submarine warfare exercises in the Pacific waters southeast of Japan. There have also been reports of naval aviators from several bases in the Nanjing and Guangzhou military regions conducting long-range exercises that incorporated radar jamming, night flying, mid-air refueling, and simulated bombing runs in the South China Sea.
I don't really see the case for alarmism here. Not asking Japan's permission may be the international equivalent of a dick move, but it's hardly "aggressive". Both passages are several hundred miles across open waters, and while I understand Taipei probably doesn't like the idea of the Chinese fleet going flanking the island on both sides, you could literally write the above paragraph if the Chinese Navy had sailed in any direction: China has a ton of contested water borders around it.

Considering the US maintains that it doesn't have to ask Canada's permission to send warships through the Arctic archipelago, they're hardly in a position to complain about China doing something that is, frankly, far less obnoxious.

Still, worth noting and very interesting to see Chinese naval competence growing in leaps and bounds.

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