Japanese interrupt China’s live-fire exercises

by Chris Zappone

The Chinese Defence Ministry has made a formal diplomatic complaint to Japan over its military’s recent interruption of live-fire exercises held by China in the western Pacific.

From Reuters:

Defence Ministry spokesman Yang Yujun said that a Japanese naval and air patrol disrupted a Chinese live ammunition military drill last Friday, without giving the precise location.

China is moving towards more naval activity in the Western Pacific, even while the Senkaku-Diaoyu island dispute continues.
Abe in a recent speech and interview has singled out the need for Japan to “contribute” to regional security by countering
China. China, as the country industrializes, has more desire to firm up its push its borders outward and secure its own
zone of security.

There has been speculation about Shinzo Abe reigniting Japanese nationalism (a la 1930s) as he tries to pull the country
back from its zombie-status. But Japan faces huge demographic challenges. It’s a country that in the past two decades has
had trouble creating inflation, so a kind of 1930s-style militarism seems a bit far fetched, at least now.

Across the East China Sea, Xi Jinping’s reform agenda has run into trouble. Sure, economic reforms are on the cards – but
the increasing demand for political reforms seems to be going unheeded. Some Westerners speculate that Xi will rely on a
kind of neo-Maoism, popularized by pretender-to-the-Politburo Standing Committee, fallen politician Bo Xilai.

If that’s the case, the question is, how much does neo-Maoism rely on a war-like view of the outside world.

None of this takes away from that fact that China really was victimised by foreign forces from the 1840s onwards, with
Japan at the forefront in the 1900s. So the grievance is real.

But the question is, where does China’s leadership take that? Obviously, with $300 billion in trade with Japan on the line,
a lot is at stake. And China and Japan have made gestures that indicate a willingness to talk about the issue. But as this
Reuters article noted, it’s wasn’t China’s foreign minister approaching Japan’s foreign ministry over the latest incident.

It was China’s defence ministry.

From Reuters: “Diplomatic complaints are normally lodged by the Foreign Ministry, so the Defence Ministry’s unusual move signals the military’s anger.”

That signals that like many a developing country, China’s military is its own political entity. Whatever discussions
between Japan and China at the diplomatic level may even not matter when it comes to a military to military dispute.