WASHINGTON — The growing tit-for-tat politics of China and Japan are worrisome, as a Chinese military plane came awfully close to violating Japanese airspace.
Reuters reports that Japan scrambled fighter jets to intercept the Chinese military aircraft, but it was unnecessary in the end. But this was not the first time where China has been overly aggressive, having warned a Japanese ship with an overaggressive use of radar.
China’s official response is that the aircraft was conducting a routine training mission in international airspace close to the southern islands of Japan. The Y-8 early warning plane, which has surveillance capabilities, flew close to the main Okinawan island and the smaller Miyaho island.
Chinese Defense Ministry spokesman Geng Yansheng said, “This was not aimed at any specific country or had any specific aim, and was in accordance with international law and practice…China has the legal right to freedom of flight over the relevant seas”.
China is upset with Japan over their possession of a disputed island chain, which the Japanese call Senkaku and the Chinese call it Diaoyu. The rights to the island’s mineral resources are at stake, although the majority of islands are uninhabitable.
This comes as a time where Japan, Vietnam, Australia and the U.S. are wary of growing Chinese influence and military build-up. Japan made an alliance with Russia while the U.S. has increased training exercises with Australia and is working towards a free-trade agreement with Vietnam. But the U.S. has sent mixed signals. Before, they left Vietnam out to dry over another islands dispute and an Obama national security adviser glanced over the number of China-based cyberattacks on American databases.