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Talk of the Day -- Who would win in China-Japan naval war?

2012/08/23 22:56:43

The sovereignty dispute over the Tiaoyutai Islands in the East China Sea has ignited anti-Japan protests across China.

An ongoing live-fire drill in Guam simulating an island assault by Japan's Ground Self-Defense Force and U.S. Marines has also drawn a strong reaction from Chinese news media amid growing tensions over the territorial row.

State-owned China Central Television has given extensive coverage of the exercise, the first of its kind for Japanese ground troops and U.S. Marines. A CCTV program provided a detailed rundown of what the troops would do in a program on Wednesday.

The Beijing-based Global Times urged the Chinese government to prepare for possible conflict.

Meanwhile, Jame's Defense Magazine reported recently that China test-fired its new DF-41 multiple-warhead intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) in late July.

The new long-range ground-mobile missile is assessed to carry multiple independently targetable re-entry vehicles (MIRVs), the defense magazine said.

According to an article on, China also conducted a flight test of a new submarine-launched ballistic missile last week.

The article said the flight test of China's new JL-2 missile took place Aug. 16 from a new Jin-class submarine on patrol in the Bohai Sea near the coast of northeastern China.

Amid a ramp-up in tensions over the Tiaoyutai Islands, U.S. naval strategy expert James Holmes explored the possible prospect of a clash of the two East Asian titans -- China and Japan -- in an article posted on the Foreign Policy website.

"Ok, it's probably not going to happen. But if it did, who would win?" he wrote.

In Holmes' views, Tokyo could make a maritime war with China a close-run thing -- and perhaps even prevail if its commanders manage their human, material and geographic advantages artfully.

The following are excerpts from the local media coverage of developments in the Tiaoyutais sovereignty row:

United Daily News:

New York Times quoted Kazuhiko Togo, a retired Japanese diplomat as saying recently that if the dispute over the Tiaoyutais -- a cluster of uninhabited islets about 100 nautical miles northeast of Taiwan -- cannot be resolved through peaceful diplomatic means, an armed conflict is very likely to flare up.

Should that happen, Togo said, the United States may passively get involved because of the U.S.-Japan defensebe treaty.

James R. Holmes, an associate professor at the U.S. Naval War College, said in an article that although China possesses more naval fleets or arsenal, it may not necessarily win a naval war over the Tiaoyutais, which are not controlled by Japan but also claimed by Taiwan and China.

Despite growing tensions over the island chain, China's official Xinhua News Agency reported Wednesday Cai Yingting, the People's Liberation Army's deputy chief of general staff, is currently visiting the United States at the head of a high-ranking military delegation.

The visit followed Chinese Defense Minister Liang Guanglie's U.S. tour in May.

Military sources said Cai's visit is part of Beijing and Washington's efforts to enhance contacts to avoid misjudgement at a sensitive moment.

Meanwhile, Japanese media reports said the Japan's central government is likely to reject the Tokyo Metropolitan Government's application to conduct a survey trip to the Tiaoyutais in an effort to avoid fueling further protests from China and Taiwan. (Aug. 23, 2012).

Liberty Times:

Holmes said in his article that whoever forges sea, land, and air forces into the sharpest weapon of sea combat stands a good chance of prevailing.

"That could be Japan if its political and military leaders think creatively, procure the right hardware, and arrange it on the map for maximum effect," Holmes wrote, adding that after all, Japan doesn't need to defeat China's military in order to win a showdown at sea, because it already holds the contested Tiaoyutais, known as Senkaku Island in Japan.

"All it needs to do is deny China access. If Northeast Asian seas became a no-man's land but Japanese forces hung on, the political victory would be Tokyo's," he forecast. (Aug. 23, 2012).

(By Sofia Wu)