Chinese Navy begins exercise in Western Pacific

China continues to flex its muscles and irritate its neighbours. This is unlikely to make Japan and South Korea do their happy dance. The key phrase here is “open sea training” and the United States Navy should take clear notice that this indicates the Chinese are going to range far-and-wide throughout the Pacific.

Chinese warships sail to West Pacific for open-sea training

BEIJING, July 16 (ChinaMil) –Upon the end of the China-Russia maritime joint exercise codenamed “Maritime Joint Exercise 2013”, according to schedule, two warships of the Chinese naval taskforce set out on a return voyage to the fleet they belonged to, while the other five warships sailed through the La Pérouse Strait and the Sea of Ochotsk on July 14. The five warships will carry out open-sea training in the waters of the West Pacific during the homeward voyage.

The naval taskforce will conduct drills on such subjects as air-defense, anti-ship operations, attack-and-defense confrontation and so on, so as to explore the methods for carrying out normalized open-sea training and improve troop units’ capability for conducting actual-combat operations. Five warships of the North China Sea Fleet of the Navy of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLAN), namely, the guided missile destroyers “Shenyang“, “Shijiazhuang“, the guided missile frigates “Yancheng” and “Yantai“, and the comprehensive supply ship “Hongze Lake“, will participate in the regular training of 2013.

Japan’s Kyodo News Agency said that Japan is vigilant against the expanded range of activities of the PLAN. The NHK also pointed out that this is the first time for Chinese warships to sail through the La Pérouse Strait, and the Japan’s Ministry of Defense is analyzing China’s intentions.

In fact, however, it is very normal for the PLAN to make a return voyage through the La Pérouse Strait after the China-Russia joint exercise nearby the Vladivostok Base of the Pacific Fleet Headquarters of the Russian Navy to the north of the Sea of Japan.

Senior Captain Zhang Junshe expressed that the La Pérouse Strait is an international waterway between Russia’s Sakhalin Island and Japan’s Hokkaido Island, one of the exits from the Sea of Japan to the northernmost tip of the Pacific Ocean, and also a passageway for the Russian Pacific Fleet to and from the Pacific Ocean, and warships and aircraft of any country can sail freely through the strait.

In a press interview, Rear Admiral Yin Zhuo also pointed out that the China-Russia maritime joint exercise codenamed “Maritime Joint Exercise 2013” is PLAN’s first exercise in the Sea of Japan. It is a great training opportunity and also an important step towards understanding the Pacific Ocean for the PLAN to sail through the La Pérouse Strait and the Sea of Ochotsk to familiarize itself with the sea area, and enter the Pacific Ocean to carry out open-sea training.

Chinese destroyers, frigates enter the Sea of Japan

A Chinese naval flotilla comprised of destroyers and frigates has entered the Sea of Japan after passing through the La Pérouse Strait separating the Russian island of Sakhalin  from the Japanese island of Hokkaidō.

The Chinese Navy seems to be taking advantage of the straits “unique” status. Japan’s territorial waters extend to three nautical miles into La Pérouse Strait instead of the usual twelve, reportedly to allow nuclear-armed United States Navy warships and submarines to transit the strait without violating Japan’s prohibition against nuclear weapons in its territory. So clearly there is no, technical, violation of Japanese sovereignty.

China naval fleet seen off northern Japan

A Chinese maritime surveillance ship sails near a group of disputed islands in the East China Sea, October 25, 2012. A Chinese naval fleet has been spotted sailing for the first time through an international strait between northern Japan and Russia’s far east, according to the Japanese defence ministry.

AFP – A Chinese naval fleet was Sunday spotted sailing for the first time through an international strait between northern Japan and Russia’s far east, the Japanese defence ministry said.

The two missile destroyers, two frigates and a supply ship passed through the Soya Strait from the Sea of Japan to the Sea of Okhotsk early Sunday, the ministry said.

The channel, also known as La Perouse, separates the Russian island of Sakhalin and the northernmost Japanese island of Hokkaido.

The five ships took part in joint naval exercises with Russia from July 5-12 off Vladivostok.

Two other Chinese naval ships which also took part in the drills were seen moving into the East China Sea on Saturday.

The purpose of the Chinese fleet’s passage through the Soya Strait is not known, Kyodo news agency quoted a ministry official as saying.

On Saturday a fleet of 16 Russian naval ships was seen moving through the Soya Strait into the Sea of Okhotsk, the ministry said.

China and Russia held the joint naval exercises — their second such drill — amid regional concerns about China’s growing maritime power.

Tensions have been growing over China’s island disputes with Japan and other neighbours.

Chinese government surveillance ships have frequently approached the Tokyo-controlled Senkaku islands in the East China Sea, which are also claimed by China as the Diaoyus, since Japan nationalised some of them last September.

Chinese army chief of general staff General Fang Fenghui earlier said the joint drills were “not targeting any third party”, according to the official Chinese Xinhua news agency.