A simulated amphibious landing exercise held by Chinese and Thai marines on May 25 this year in Guangdong province (Photo/Xinhua).
During a five-day naval exercise in the East China Sea between July 10 to 15, the East Sea Fleet of the China's PLA Navy will simulate an amphibious assault on the disputed Diaoyu islands, known as the Senkaku islands by Japan and the Tiaoyutai islands by Taiwan, which also claim them, reports Hong Kong's Ming Pao.
Due to the exercise, all fishing activities in the area of the Zhoushan islands off the coast of the eastern province of Zhejiang have been suspended on the orders of a PLA unit. Huang Dong, a Macau-based military analyst, said it is rare to see such a directive issued by a military unit instead of the defense ministry. This is a way for Beijing to avoid a direct confrontation with Tokyo over an exercise which will be larger than the past, according to Huang.
Huang said the simulated amphibious assault will be the most important drill for the PLA Navy during this exercise. Taiwan is usually considered the main target for the East Sea Fleet in such drills, but this time the main target is Japan's Self Defense Force, Huang said. "Without strong air and naval support, the PLA will suffer heavy losses during the landing," he said. Since the Japan Maritime Defense Force has a more advanced submarine fleet, the Chinese fleet a has spent years boosting its anti-submarine capability and purchasing more submarines.
"It is necessary for the Chinese to prepare to take the Diaoyu islands back by force and even station its military on it," said Huang. "But there will be trouble if the United States decides to intervene in the conflict between China and Japan."
Professor Nie Lexiong from Shanghai University of Political Science and Law said the East Sea Fleet, based in the Zhejiang coastal city of Ningbo, plays an important role defending the most prosperous areas of China — its coastal provinces. In the future, Nie said that it will also be the fleet's mission to penetrate the Pacific first island chain (From the Korean peninsula to the Philippines) and even the second island chain (mainly the islands of Micronesia) set up by the United States in the Asia-Pacific region to hedge China in.
Huang Dong 黃東
Nie Lexiong 倪樂雄