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TomCat

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Former PLAN frigates almost ready for handover to Bangladesh Navy
Andrew Tate, London
16 October 2019
View attachment 10989
One of the two ex-PLAN Jiangwei II-class frigates that appear close to being transferred to the BN. The ship shown here, formerly known as Lianyungang, has been undergoing overhaul at the Shenjia shipyard in Shanghai. Source: Via haohanfw.com


Two Type 053H3 (Jiangwei II)-class frigates decommissioned by China's People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) appear close to being transferred to the Bangladesh Navy (BN), judging from photographs that have appeared in Chinese online forums.

The 2,200-ton diesel-powered ships, formerly Lianyungang (pennant number 522) and Putian (pennant number 523), have been undergoing overhaul at the Shenjia shipyard in Shanghai and at facilities close to the East Sea fleet's primary base at Zhoushan, respectively. Pennant numbers F 16 and F 19 have been painted on the hulls of the ships, which are likely to be renamed BNS Umar Farooq and BNS Khalid Bin Walid once in BN service.

The date for the handover of the ships to the BN as well as their departure from China has yet to be announced.

No obvious modifications have been made to the ships in preparation for the handover. In PLAN service their primary armament consisted of a twin 100 mm gun, eight YJ-83 anti-ship missiles fired from slant-mounted containerised launchers, an octuple launcher for HHQ-7 short-range surface-to-air missiles, and four twin 37 mm gun mountings. None of these have been removed, although the YJ-83 and HHQ-7 systems may have been modified in line with the C-802A and FM-90N export versions, particularly with regard to the missiles supplied.

The BN currently operates four frigates; an elderly Type 053H1 (Jianghu II)-class ship acquired from China in 1989, a modified Ulsan-class platform procured from South Korea in 2001, and two former PLAN Type 053H2 (Jianghu III)-class vessels transferred from China in 2014. It also operates two larger, 3,250-ton former US Coastguard Hamilton-class cutters, each armed with a 76 mm Oto Melara gun, acquired in 2013 and 2015.
Can't we also pursue a similar approach along with the existing 054, Hangor and ADA? They are retiring 2 destroyers as well next year.
 

TomCat

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Khafee

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They would be even more willing to give us given that we are their regular Major / Minor procurement customer as well as CPEC.
Lets see if they do.
 

Rashid Mahmood

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Jiangwei II are very old ships.
Not worth to buy.

Personally I do not recommend old ships for PN now, as we have been doing in the past and our local production program suffered.
Either we buy new ships or we build them ourselves.

We have quite an experience after the F22P.
 

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Satellite images show China is expanding shipyard ‘to build more aircraft carriers’
  • Washington-based think tank CSIS believes hull assembly of Type 002 warship should be finished within 12 months
  • Vessel will then be moved to a newly built harbour and wharf for fitting
by Liu Zhen
Published:17 Oct, 2019

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Satellite images show the expansion of Jiangnan Shipyard in Shanghai over the past year. Photo: CSIS/ChinaPower/Maxar Technologies and Airbus via Reuters

New satellite images show China is making fast progress on its third aircraft carrier and expanding the shipyard where it is being built – potentially for more huge ships, according to analysts.

The high-resolution images of the Jiangnan Shipyard in Shanghai were taken last month by Washington-based think tank the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). They show construction work on the vessel, the Type 002, in the shipyard’s dry dock, with a series of prefabricated sections, bulkheads and other components stacked nearby, Reuters reported on Thursday.

Based on the images, the CSIS believed the hull assembly should be finished within 12 months and the ship would then be moved to a newly built harbour and wharf for fitting.

The PLA Navy has one operational aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, while the Type 001A – the first to be made in China – is
undergoing sea trials. They were both worked on at the Dalian Shipyard in the northeast of the country.


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A satellite image from last month shows parts for an aircraft carrier under construction at the Jiangnan Shipyard. Photo: CSIS/ChinaPower/Airbus via Reuters


China has yet to officially announce the details of the Type 002, but state media has confirmed it is being built.

According to naval expert Li Jie, there will be more to come. He believed the Chinese navy would need five or six
aircraft carriers
to meet its needs in the future.

The satellite images suggest the huge new harbour on the Yangtze River estuary is nearly complete and could be used to build much bigger vessels – it is far larger than the existing harbour next to it where destroyers and other warships are docked, according to the report.

It also has a nearly 1km wharf and buildings for ship component manufacturing.
Earlier images analysed by CSIS show much of the area was apparently abandoned farmland just a year ago, the report said.

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The shipyard expansion includes buildings for manufacturing ship components. Photo: CSIS/ChinaPower/Airbus via Reuters


“It is hard to imagine all this is being done for just one ship,” CSIS analyst Matthew Funaiole was quoted as saying. “This looks more like a specialised space for carriers and or other larger vessels.”

Li said the Shanghai shipyard was likely to build the navy’s next aircraft carrier, after the Type 002 was completed, and it would probably be similar in design.
“That they’ve expanded the harbour is no surprise, given that future aircraft carriers will be larger and more complicated – such as being nuclear-powered,” he said.

Jiangnan Shipyard is a subsidiary of China State Shipbuilding Corporation, one of the country’s two major state-owned warship builders along with the China Shipbuilding Industry Corporation. CSSC and CSIC announced in July that they would merge.

CSSC and CSIC have over the past few years built hundreds of military vessels, including aircraft carriers, Type 055 destroyers, Type 075 amphibious assault ships and Type 094A nuclear submarines as the Chinese navy seeks to rapidly modernise.

The navy was estimated to have 335 major warships – submarines, aircraft carriers, destroyers, frigates, corvettes, missile-armed patrol ships and amphibious ships – as of this year, according to a US Congressional Research Service report released earlier this month. That compares to 216 warships back in 2005.

Given that the PLA Navy has retired a number of older vessels in that time, its fleet capability would also have improved along with the increase in warships.

The report, titled “China naval modernisation: implications for US Navy capabilities – background and issues for Congress”, also compared the Chinese fleet to that of the US Navy over the same period. It found that the US had 75 more warships than China in 2005, but by this year, the US Navy had 49 fewer warships than the PLA Navy.

The growth also reflected the expansion of the China Coast Guard – it had 185 ships in 2017, but just two years later the number was 248.
 

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China’s Z-20 Black Hawk lookalike and flying saucer concept craft star at helicopter expo
  • PLA’s great helicopter hope gets plenty of airtime at four-day show in Tianjin
  • Analyst says chopper is ‘significant improvement’ on earlier models
by Liu Zhen
Published: 7:30am,

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New Z-20 helicopters from the PLA Air Force perform during the China Helicopter Exposition in Tianjin. Photo: Reuters

China unveiled some eye-catching air power at the China Helicopter Exposition in the northern city of Tianjin on the weekend, including a model that resembled the US Sikorsky Black Hawk and a concept craft that looked like a flying saucer.

While analysts said China had a long way to go to rival American market-leaders, the Harbin Z-20 transport helicopter, which made its official debut at the National Day parade on October 1, made a high-profile appearance at the expo in a static display and in three-chopper close formation flyovers.

The Z-20 has been promoted as a replacement for the People’s Liberation Army’s 35-year-old Black Hawks used on the Tibetan Plateau and the Russian-built Ka-28s which provide air cover for warships.

The Z-20 – developed by Harbin Aircraft Industry Group, a subsidiary of Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC) – made its maiden flight in 2013 and entered service last year.

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The naval variant of China’s Z-20 helicopter aboard a destroyer during the summer. Photo: Weibo

The multi-role Z-20 had two Chinese-made turboshaft engines, a fly-by-wire [electronic] flight control system, and could operate at night and in poor weather, Li Linhua, chief technology expert of the AVIC Helicopter Institute, said at the expo.

“This aircraft has good usability for both plains and plateaus, with wide compatibility so that the basic platform can be refitted for other tasks,” Li said.

A modified Z-20 with a foldaway tail rotor was first seen aboard the Type 055 guided-missile destroyer Nanchang in July. These are likely to become the navy’s Z-20F and carry out anti-submarine duties.

Observers noted similarities between the Z-20 and the Black Hawk in shape, layout and size, although the Chinese chopper has five rotor blades instead of four.

China bought 24 Black Hawks in 1984 for service in the plateau region and they are still in operation today.

Song Zhongping, a military commentator in Hong Kong, said that despite similarities in appearance, the Z-20 has home-developed lift, transmission, flight control, and avionics systems, and should not be regarded as a copy of the US machine.
“The Z-20 is already much more advanced than those imported Black Hawks, although it might not be as mature as the latest Black Hawk variants,” he said.

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The Super White Shark concept rotor-driven aircraft makes an appearance at the Tianjin expo. Photo: Weibo

China has made aviation one of its key industries and has invested heavily in both military and civilian aircraft of all kinds, including fixed-wing, rotary, manned and unmanned technology.

Song said the Z-20 was a significant improvement but had a problem plaguing Chinese aviation – a lack of powerful engines.

China’s aviation engines were generally not as advanced as those built in other countries, Song said. “This problem needs to be tackled from the ground up.”

Visitors to the four-day show were also treated to some unusual helicopter design concepts, including the flying saucer-like Super White Shark armed helicopter, and many rotary unmanned aerial vehicles.

The Super White Shark concept model was described as a two-seat turbojet stealth aircraft with a ceiling of 6,000 metres (19,685 feet), a top speed of 650km/h (404mph) and a range of 2,950km.

Although the Super White Shark’s developer – known as the Parrot Laboratory – claimed to have learned from designs such as the US’ AH-64 Apache ground attack helicopter and Russia’s Ka-52 reconnaissance and combat chopper, it said no country had yet succeeded in developing and perfecting such wing-body-fusion technology.
 

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US Navy Admiral George Wikoff hails Beijing as ‘cordial, professional’ in South China Sea
  • Wikoff spoke aboard the the USS Ronald Reagan, headed for Singapore as part of freedom of navigation exercises meant to counter China’s growing military presence in the region
  • China’s Ministry of Defence criticised the US for “flexing its muscles in the region” after the ships participated in war exercises this month
Bloomberg
Published: 17 Oct, 2019

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US Navy ships from Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group and Boxer Amphibious Ready Group sailing in formation in the South China Sea. Photo: EPA

Peering over the deck of a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier sailing through a disputed part of the South China Sea, US Navy Rear Admiral George Wikoff said he’s been impressed with the professionalism of China’s navy.

“They remain respectful in accordance with what we anticipate a professional would do, and we respond or initiate in kind when we believe that there is a situation,” said Wikoff aboard the USS Ronald Reagan on Wednesday, after taking over command of Task Force 70 two weeks ago.

“It has been very cordial, and I think they have been very professional is really what I’d like to emphasise on both sides.”

Sailing within waters China claims in its so-called “nine-dash line” off the coast of Malaysia, the US$4.5 billion supercarrier was accompanied by one destroyer and two cruisers. It was headed for Singapore as part of freedom of navigation exercises meant to counter China’s growing military presence in the region at a time when both countries are embroiled in a global trade war.

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US Navy Rear Admiral George Wikoff. Photo: US Navy


China’s increasing assertiveness in huge swathes of the sea has put fellow claimants like Vietnam on edge in recent months. Beijing says its naval expansion in the area is designed to safeguard an “inalienable” part of its territory, a push that has prompted the US to warn “China is gaining effective control of the South China Sea”.

The US has challenged China’s territorial claims with regular freedom of navigation missions since 2015. The most recent came last month when a guided-missile destroyer, the USS Wayne E. Meyer, passed near the Paracel Islands, which are claimed by China, Vietnam and Taiwan.

US forces are also contending with China’s rapidly growing arsenal of anti-ballistic missiles and unmanned aircraft, part of what the Pentagon has termed “anti-access/area denial” weapons.

Among those showcased during a military parade in Beijing this month include the include DF-17 ballistic missiles believed capable of circumventing US defence systems. A supersonic reconnaissance drone, the DR-8, is designed to defeat air and missile defences.
Still, Wikoff said he has “no concerns” about the security of US forces operating in contested waters.

“I slept very well last night, I slept very well the night before and I’ll sleep very well as we transit back through the South China Sea,” he said.

The Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group’s manoeuvres have captured China’s attention. China’s Ministry of Defence criticised the US for “flexing its muscles in the region” after the ships participated in war exercises this month, according to a report in the China Daily.

Although the admiral wouldn’t talk about the specifics of the carrier group’s mission in the South China Sea, he did not deny reports that the aircraft carrier was at one point being tailed by at several Chinese warships.

“We’re never surprised, ever, so make that very clear,” Wikoff said. Still, he noted the mission of the USS Ronald Reagan remains “to be lethal and ready when the bell rings and the call comes to do so”.
 

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China’s Type 001A aircraft carrier sets off on latest sea trial as navy prepares to commission ship ‘within months’
  • Country’s first home-grown carrier may soon be ready for service but observers warn a few glitches may still need to be ironed out
Kristin Huang
Published: 6:00pm, 17 Oct, 2019

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The Type 001A will be China’s second carrier and the first home-grown one. Photo:ifeng

China’s first home-grown aircraft carrier, Type 001A, will be commissioned within months, according to military observers.

The ship appeared to have set off on its eighth sea trial on Tuesday after photographs taken by a plane flying over a restricted area showed a carrier, with a warplane on deck, leaving the Dalian Shipyard, where the carrier is being built.

The timing coincided with a notice issued by China’s Maritime Safety Administration, saying an area of the Bohai Sea, near the yard would be cordoned off for military activities.

While the commissioning would mark an advance in China’s naval capacity, some analysts noted that the trial phase was taking longer than expected.

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A photo shows a carrier leaving the Dalian shipyard on Tuesday. Photo: Weibo

Global Times,
a tabloid affiliated to Communist Party mouthpiece People’s Daily, quoted naval observer Li Jie as saying that the Type 001A was likely to be undertaking its eighth sea trial after solving problems discovered in the previous trials.

In August the Type 001A identified technical problems that required immediate attention during its seventh trial, a fairly common occurrence in the processes.

Zhou Chenming, a Beijing based military expert, said that the Type 001A’s commissioning had already been postponed and the major problem now was a lack of shipborne aircraft and problems with the flight control system.

Zhou said the control system worked with J-15 fighters, which will be the primary jets used on the ship, but “is not yet compatible with other aircraft, which hinders the aircraft carrier’s final commissioning”.

Once commissioned, the ship will join the country’s first carrier, the Liaoning, at sea, boosting the country’s naval capacity.

Collin Koh, a research fellow at the Institute of Defence and Strategic Studies from Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University, said: “With two aircraft carriers, the PLA Navy will have greater chances to hone its carrier capabilities – conducting more missions, training, and all of these contributing to the accumulation of expertise and know-how.

“This means qualitatively improving [its] carrier capability, including human capital.

“For long-term strategic significance, it means an expanding power projection capability of the PLAN that allows it to promote presence in regions where Beijing asserts national interests.”

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Once ready the ship will carry 32 J-15 fighters. Photo:ifeng


The Type 001A’s trial phase has taken longer than some military observers had expected. The aircraft carrier set out for its first sea trial in May 2018, some 17 months ago.

By comparison, the Liaoning, a former Soviet Kuznetsov-class vessel underwent 10 sea trials over a 13-month period before it was commissioned.

The Type 001A is a modified version of the design that features upgraded radar and bridge systems and will carry 36 J-15s compared with the Liaoning’s capacity of 24.

The ship also features a ski-jump deck for take-offs, has a displacement of 70,000 tonnes and will be able to carry a total of 40 aircraft.
 

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‘Grey zone’ tactics are raising risk of military conflict in the South China Sea, observers say
Liu Zhen
Published: 6:00pmt, 2019
  • America’s freedom of navigation operations and drills in disputed waters designed to challenge China’s rise and excessive territorial claims, analyst says
  • And promises Washington makes to other nations in region could lead to an ‘unwanted conflict’ with Beijing, he says

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The US conducted at least five so-called freedom of navigation operations in the South China Sea last year. Photo: AFP

The United States’ increased use of “grey zone” operations in the South China Seato counter Beijing’s rise in the disputed region has significantly increased the chance of military conflict between the two powers, Chinese observers say.

In 2018, the US conducted at least five so-called freedom of navigation operations in the sea and more than 1,000 military flights over it, Chen Yong, an assistant research fellow with the Institute of International Relations at the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, said in a recently published academic paper.

On any given day, at least three US naval vessels could be found in the disputed waters, he said.“As China’s militarymight increases, so the US will turn to ever more dangerous grey zone operations,” he said

Grey zone is a term given to the state of being between war and peace, and in which a nation seeks to make political or territorial gains against another without resorting to actual combat.

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On any given day, at least three US naval vessels can be found in the South China Sea, according to a Chinese researcher. Photo: AFP

Chen said that as the rivalry between China and the US in the security arena had grown, so Washington had employed the “full spectrum of grey zone activities to suppress Beijing”.

For many years the United States has accused China of using such operations to challenge the existing (US-led) order in the strategically important South China Sea, which is a vital trade route in the global supply chain.

While Beijing claims sovereignty over about 90 per cent of the waterway, based on its “nine-dash line”, Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan hold competing claims, while the US says it has significant political, military and economic interests in the region.

Chen said that as the rivalry between China and the US in the security arena had grown, so Washington had employed the “full spectrum of grey zone activities to suppress Beijing”.

For many years the United States has accused China of using such operations to challenge the existing (US-led) order in the strategically important South China Sea, which is a vital trade route in the global supply chain.

While Beijing claims sovereignty over about 90 per cent of the waterway, based on its “nine-dash line”, Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan hold competing claims, while the US says it has significant political, military and economic interests in the region.

According to military officials and observers in the US, Beijing’s grey zone tactics in the South China Sea include building artificial islands and militarising them, deploying its coastguard to patrol disputed reefs, and recruiting fishing vessels to work as an ad hoc maritime militia.
China began restructuring its coastguard in 2013 and since last year it has been under the administration of the People’s Armed Police, which in turn falls under the Central Military Commission chaired by President Xi Jinping.

According to a US Congressional Research Service report published this month, China’s coastguard fleet comprises 248 vessels, up from 185 in 2017.

Chen said, however, that the claims made about the maritime militia had been overstated and that the US’s countermeasures were therefore excessive.

The grey zone activities adopted by the US included a narrative war to label China a “revisionist” nation, increased coastguard patrols, freedom of navigation operations and naval exercises in the South China Sea, he said.
“All of these are designed to undermine China’s grey zone advantages and force it to accept the US version of the international maritime order.”

Most dangerous of all, Chen said, were Washington’s efforts to build military alliances in the region.
“The security promises it makes to South China Sea countries are too high,” and that could lead the US and China “into unwanted conflicts”, he said.

Professor Hu Bo, director of the South China Sea Strategic Situation Probing Initiative, a think tank under Peking University’s Institute of Ocean Research, said that for China to counter the US’s actions it needed to hit back hard.
“In this game an effective response is to escalate the level of confrontation and raise the stakes,” he said.
 

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China Is Building 'The Mother of All Bombs': Report
October 21, 2019
America already has one.
by Michael Peck

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Key Point: So, what do we know about China’s big bomb? Not much, and what there is may be mere hype.

China has joined the “Mother of All Bombs” club.

A Chinese arms maker has unveiled a weapon similar to America’s GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast bomb, or MOAB (hence the nickname “Mother of All Bombs”). The Chinese version was dropped from an H-6K bomber, the Chinese version of the 1950s Soviet Tu-16 aircraft.

Photographs on China’s state-owned Global Times news site showed earlier in the year what appeared to be a large bomb falling from a bomb bay, and then a large explosion. Chinese military analyst Wei Dongxu told Global Times that based on photographic evidence and the size of the H-6K’s bomb bay, the bomb was five to six meters long (16.4 to 19.7 feet long). Chinese media also suggested that the bomb weighed several tons, and was so big that the H-6K could only carry one.

“The massive blast can easily and completely wipe out fortified ground targets such as reinforced buildings, bastions and defense shelters," or knock down trees so troops can rappel down from helicopters, Wei said.

According to Global Times, military observers claimed that “the weapon will also spread fear among enemies if a weapon of this caliber is deployed.”

If any weapon can inspire, it’s giant bombs like these. The MOAB is the biggest non-nuclear bomb in the U.S. arsenal, and the biggest non-nuclear bomb that America has ever dropped. The MOAB is 30 feet long, weighs 21,600 pounds, and is so big that it isn’t dropped by bombers, but rather is shoved out the back of a C-130 transport (the Air Force wants to equip the B-52 to carry them on its wings). Guided by GPS to its target, the MOAB works not by hitting the ground and exploding like a regular bomb, but explodes a few feet above the target in an airburst that destroys everything in the surrounding area with a massive overpressure. This means the force of the bomb isn’t wasted burying itself in the ground, but spreads through the air.

While the United States has giant bunker-buster bombs like the 30,000-pound Massive Ordnance Penetrator, the MOAB can also destroy cave and tunnel complexes through overpressure that slams through the openings. In fact, the MOAB’s combat debut was in April 2017 in Afghanistan, where it reportedly destroyed three tunnel complexes and killed ninety-four Taliban fighters.

Not to be outdone, Russia has its FOAB (“Father of All Bombs”), which Moscow claims is four times more powerful than America’s MOAB. It is a thermobaric weapon, a fuel-air explosive that releases and detonates an explosive vapor of devastating power (NORINCO denies reports that China’s weapon is thermobaric).

So, what do we know about China’s big bomb? Not much, and what there is may be mere hype. Chinese analyst Wei told Global Times that “the Chinese bomb is smaller and lighter than the US one, enabling it to be deployed on the H-6K bomber. The US bomb is so large that it has to be carried by a larger transport aircraft rather than a bomber, Wei said, noting that a bomber can fly faster and is better at targeting than a transport aircraft, and the Chinese bomb's designer must have had this in mind when it produced the bomb to fit the H-6K.”

But nothing comes for free, and if China has devised a smaller and lighter bomb than MOAB, the drawback may be less explosive power. And to be fair to history, all of these giant twenty-first-century bombs trace their lineage back to Britain’s “Dam Busters” of World War II, and legendary bomb designer Barnes Wallis, who devised the six-ton Tallboy and ten-ton Grand Slam bombs.
 

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Japan and China hold first joint maritime drills in eight years in sign of warming ties
  • Relations between the nations have been frosty since a September 2010 dispute over the Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands
  • But it is in the interest of Beijing and Tokyo to move away from confrontation and foster better trade ties, an expert says
by Julian Ryall
Published: 22 Oct, 2019
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The guided-missile destroyer Taiyuan of the Chinese People's Liberation Army Navy. Photo: AP

Warships from Japan and China have carried out joint drills for the first time in eight years, the latest indication that long-chilly bilateral relations might once again be warming up.

The Japan Maritime Self-Defence Force (MSDF) destroyer Samidare carried out a series of radio communication and coordination exercises with the Chinese guided-missile destroyer Taiyuan in waters south of Japan on October 16, Japanese national broadcaster NHK reported on Tuesday.

The Chinese warship had been scheduled to take part in an international fleet review on October 14, but the event was called off after Super Typhoon Hagibis caused widespread damage across eastern Japan.

The defence ministries of both countries nevertheless decided to go ahead with the radio exercises, with Taiyuan becoming the first Chinese navy warship to visit Japan since 2009.

In December 2011, the MSDF destroyer Kirisame put into the Chinese port of Qingdao and carried out a number of events with their local counterparts in the city as well as communications exercises at sea.

“This is all part of the diplomatic charm offensive by both countries as they try to patch things up and, in effect, normalise relations,” said Garren Mulloy, a professor of international relations at Japan’s Daito Bunka University and an authority on defence issues.

This can be seen as traditional diplomacy but with a focus on trade - Garren Mulloy, Daito Bunka University

“Both Tokyo and Beijing want to get away from confrontation and their primary aim is to have good trading relations for the mutual benefit of both nations. So this can be seen as traditional diplomacy but with a focus on trade behind these developments.”

Ties between Beijing and Tokyo came close to crisis point after a major diplomatic dispute in September 2010, when the crew of a Chinese trawler, Minjinyu 5179, were detained by the Japan Coast Guard on charges of operating illegally in Japanese waters around the Diaoyu Islands.

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The Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea are claimed by Japan, mainland China and Taiwan. Photo: Kyodo


The islands are controlled by Japan, where they are known as the Senkakus, and are also claimed by mainland China and Taiwan.

An improvement in Sino-Japanese relations “has been a long time coming”, Mulloy said, adding that Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abehas been “putting out feelers” to China since he came to power in late 2012.

“Despite his considerable nationalistic baggage, Abe has wanted to show that he was different from his predecessors and that he did not want confrontation with China over the Senkakus or anything else,” he said.

“But while he was trying hard to patch things up, the Chinese were just not biting for a long time. They noted everything, but it was not to Beijing’s advantage to do anything at that time.”

However, Beijing is now much more open to improving the relationship as the result of a significant slowdown in domestic economic growth following the US-China trade war and broader global trade uncertainties – which Mulloy suggested could be traced back to the unpredictability of United States President Donald Trump.

“Long-term trade needs stability and predictability, and that is what both China and Japan want,” he said.

There are other signs that could be interpreted as efforts to narrow a gap in bilateral relations that not too long ago appeared unbridgeable. It was reported in August that China had instructed its fishing fleets to stay away from waters surrounding the disputed Diaoyu archipelago, while an MSDF warship took part in China’s first fleet review in April, the first port call by a Japanese vessel in more than seven years.

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Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has tried to mend ties with China since 2012, according to an expert. Photo: AP

Mulloy also believes Beijing’s reaction to Japanese politicians paying their respects at Tokyo’s controversial Yasukuni Shrine was “markedly toned down” from previous years.

Geng Shuang, deputy director of the Chinese Foreign Ministry’s Information Department, rebuked Japan after a number of cabinet ministers visited the shrine during the recent autumn festival, adding that the visits and a ceremonial gift by Abe showed “the country’s erroneous attitude towards its history of aggression”.

Visits to the Tokyo shrine provoke Chinese ire because among the war dead it honours are those who took part in Japan’s 1931 invasion and occupation of China, along with 14 convicted Class A war criminals.

“We urge the Japanese side to faithfully honour its statements and commitments in facing up to and reflecting upon its past aggression and to win the trust from its Asian neighbours and the world by taking concrete action,” Geng said.

Said Mulloy: “They are not saying more because there is no advantage to Beijing to make a fuss. The problem for Japan is that China can choose to tone the issue down or ramp it up just as they wish and that makes it a very flexible instrument for China to use in the international discourse, and one that leaves Japan at a disadvantage.”
 

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