Two fascinating incidents happened on 10th April 2023. 

Event 1 – 

CCTV and CGTN, the Chinese state media declared arrogantly, that the Chinese forces were ready for combat at all times, and they would resolutely destroy any type of ‘Taiwan independence’ separatist or foreign interference attempts.

Event 2 –

Japan’s Joint Staff (Tobaku), in a much humbler press release, reported that by ‘scrambling’ of fighter jets Japanese defence forces had brought Chinese Shandong Carrier Battle Group’s activities to an instant halt. 

Why are these two seemingly unrelated incidents interesting?

Because Event 2 points towards the real capabilities of the Japanese Navy and the reason why the Chinese Navy fears a repeat of history!

East China Sea – April 10, 2023

The story starts with the Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen’s 10-day visit to the USA between late March and early April. China’s Communist Party (CCP) government considers this growing US-Taiwan relation to be against its “one-China ” policy. In retaliation, the Chinese military launched battle-drills in the East China Sea. While this is not the first time China has opted for military aggression instead of diplomacy, this has definitely been the most belligerent.China’s so called ‘pre-invasion attacks’ saw participation by the Aircraft Carrier Shandong, live fire combat exercises by frigates and destroyers (Type 054A frigate Xiangtan, 052D guided-missile destroyer Taiyuan, Type 052C destroyer Changchun and 956 EM destroyer Taizhou), mobilisation of Type 08 wheeled armored vehicles by Chinese Army’s (PLA) Ground Force at Guangdong, combat-oriented beach assault exercise by 72nd Group Army (PLA’s amphibious force unit), manoeuvres by J-15 fighter jets and various simulated missile strikes on ‘key targets’ within the island nation. china military exercise along the sea borders of taiwan

Pic: Key Military related Activity in East China Sea from April 3 – 10

The Response – Big Action, Less Talk

The reports released by Chinese media on CCP and PLA’s website drove the world into thinking that war was imminent in East China Sea. However, to military analyst the view was a lot clearer – The military exercises with traditional and social media messaging was China’s propaganda stunt to reassure its internal defiant audience. Because despite increased repression, widespread protests and dissent against Xi Jinping’s policies and CCP’s conduct has refused to die down.The true picture that CCP’s Armed Forces refused to show is this – Upon detection of unidentified aircrafts near Miyako Islands (located between Japan and Taiwan), the Japanese defence forces scrambled its military jets.

What is ‘Scrambling’ in Military?

It is an activity followed by most militaries tointercept hostile aircrafts. 

Why should China be mortified?

As the activity is commonly practiced and considered routine, therefore the ability to counter this is considered a basic necessity by every armed force. However, when Japan undertook scrambling on 10th April, instead of countering, the Shandong Carrier Battle Group halted its air operations immediately – a big disgrace for the “World’s Largest Navy”, isn’t it?And while Japan was not pompous and arrogant, the damage to the credibility of Chinese defence forces was loudly heard in the relevant circles. 

Chinese Fleet suffers from talent deficit?

“Doubling the number of our warships would not make our military twice as strong strategically”Wang Yunfei, a retired Chinese naval officer made these comments when he first saw the Japanese fighter jets and helicopters carry out a routine training exercise in Okinawa in 2019. If the Chinese navy had heeded the veteran’s remarks, then, they might have been prevented from the contemptible cowardice!In the past few years, the disconnect between the CCP government and military soldiers (both in active service and those retired) have become more visible – frequent protests by the veterans, negligence by junior soldiers resulting in tragic loss of life and assets, and explosions arising due to incompetence – are just some of the visible repercussions. A more immediate concern for PLA especially their naval force, is that of diminishing morale and unwillingness of young Chinese to join the defence forces. If this goes unchecked China will be forced to send demotivated and unskilled sailors for a naval campaign against the seasoned fleet of Japan. And the result of such a campaign is bound to be in the favour of the most experienced and most skilled…irrespective of the size of the fleet! While being engrossed in ‘show of strength’ around Taiwan and South China Sea, Xi Jinping and his naval leaders have mistaken Japan’s pacifism, as a weakness. China should not forget that Japan’s ‘Self Defence Force’ is a sleeping demon, which if disturbed will lead to another century of humiliation.

It is the people who use these weapons that count

-Wang Yunfei