Chinese submarine making mischief off the coast of Japan?

It’s been quite a while since China was involved in a newsworthy “international incident.” Could this be the next big incident?

Japan took up with China the issue of a suspicious submarine that intruded into its waters amid alarm in Tokyo that the vessel was a show of strength from its neighbour and growing competitor….

The submarine spent about two hours in Japanese waters Wednesday near the southern island of Okinawa before being chased on the high seas by two Japanese destroyers and a surveillance plane.

Both countries have been cautious in identifying the nationality of the submarine. If confirmed as Chinese the incident is expected to damage already sour diplomatic relations between the Asian powers….

The Sankei Shimbun called the submarine an “alarming sign” and suspected China wanted to show its military might to Japan, the United States and Taiwan, where support has been growing for a declaration of independence from Beijing.

“It is unlikely that China will come forward to reveal the submarine’s nationality and purposes,” said the daily, which is sympathetic to Taiwan.

“But if it was aimed to demonstrate the (Chinese) presence to Japan and the United States as well as Taiwan,” the Sankei said, “the objective seems to have been fully achieved.”


(And thanks to the emailer for the link.)

The Discussion: 2 Comments

What a relief to see a welcome return to blogging on things asia.

As for this one … seems unlikely to be a deliberate action on the part of the Chinese. Seems more likely to me the sub was trying to sneak through and got found. Reprimands for captain and crew await them in port.

On the other hand … I often get the feeling that a lot of the 100 Names are hankering after a fight with the Japanese. Sort of a “post Franco-Prussian War” complex that the French suffered from, just hankering to have another go to prove themselves. The Japanese on the other hand seem to be getting increasingly inclined to tell the Chinese to just get over it, and less and less inclined to sit quietly and listen to Chinese lecturing. Could be a recipe for future conflict.

November 11, 2004 @ 10:39 pm | Comment

What this report doesn’t tell you is the likely reason why a Chinese sub would be lurking off Okinawa, recent relaxations in the sale of technology to China have allowed China to purchase advanced oceanographic mapping technology that allows it to make precise maps of the ocean bed that could enable its submarine forces to A. out navigate pursuers in the event of a conflict and to navigate in waters perviously thought to shallow for safe undersea navigtion and B. to map possible areas with possible oil and gas reserves.

I don’t think that this is a show of strength, its more likely to be a mapping exercise.

Then again two Chinese vessels were sighted last week that were identified as a submarine resuce ship and a towing vessel and they were roughly heading out to this area, though they were a long way off, this sub could have been damaged in some way and was taking the shortest route back. If it is a Han-class nuclear sub as suggested, they are known to have reactor heat problems at times.

Don’t talk Japan up into a fight, it’s true that people are getting fed up with being labelled and liabled by China for something that happened two generations ago, but there is still a lot of reticence about any kind of military action, even in self defense. Japan wants to pull out of a resession and is using the Chinese economy as a booster, boat rocking is not a desirable thing.

I’m covering this in detail if your’ll excuse the self promotion Richard so hope to my blog for all the extras.

November 12, 2004 @ 2:52 am | Comment

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