Chinese warships sail around Japan as tensions rise ahead of

Chinese warships sail around Japan as tensions rise ahead of G7 summit – CNN

Fu Tian/China News Service/VCG/Getty Images

The Type 055 Nanchang (101) and Lhasa (102) guided missile destroyers in the Chinese port of Qingdao on April 20, 2023.

(CNN) – A Chinese naval fleet led by a powerful destroyer is on a 12-day circumnavigation of Japan’s main islands in a show of military might as tensions around Taiwan ease and Japan prepares to host G7 leaders next week.

Japan’s Defense Ministry on Thursday released a map showing the Type 055 guided missile destroyer Lhasa, one of the most powerful warships in the People’s Liberation Army Navy. He leads a flotilla of four ships, which included a smaller destroyer, a frigate, and a supply ship clockwise around the world.

The Japanese map shows the journey began on April 30 in the Tsushima Strait between South Korea and Japan, continued through the Tsugaru Strait at the northern tip of Hokkaido on May 5-6, and then in the Izu Island chain on Thursday ended south of Tokyo.

In a report released after the Japanese Defense Ministry’s release on Thursday, China’s state-run newspaper Global Times linked the flotilla’s trip to “Japan’s recent provocative statements” about Taiwan, the democratically ruled island over which the Chinese Communist Party claims sovereignty , although she never reigned.

“While the trip is likely to be a routine remote sea exercise by the People’s Liberation Army Navy that does not violate international law or target third parties, it could be seen as a powerful message to Japan,” the Global Times report said appeal to Chinese experts.

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said in an interview with Nikkei Asia on Wednesday that “the peace and stability of the cross-straits are vital not only for our country but for the international community as a whole.”

And Japanese Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi said Wednesday Tokyo had sent a message of protest to Beijing over the Chinese ambassador’s comments that Japan would be “caught on fire” if Tokyo linked Taiwan to its own security.

In an exclusive interview with CNN on Wednesday, Hayashi said Japan is in talks to open a NATO liaison office — the first of its kind in Asia — and said Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has had an impact well beyond Europe’s borders forced Tokyo to reconsider regional security.

“We are already in talks, but the details have not yet been finalized,” Hayashi said.

The Chinese circumnavigation also comes as leaders of the Group of Seven prepare to meet in Japan starting May 19.

Chinese naval flotillas have circumnavigated Japan in the past — notably when a 10-ship Sino-Russian flotilla did so in October 2021 — and analysts say more is to be expected as the PLA Navy flexes its muscles outside of nearby China waters more frequently .

However, the timing and route of this exercise in the context of the media reports raise concerns, the analysts say.

“Most worrisome is that China’s state media is attempting to make this a show of force by linking the PLAN surface action group’s route choices to Kishida’s comments on Taiwan,” said John Bradford, senior fellow at the S. Rajaratman School of International Studies in Singapore.

“The proliferation of such threats further erodes confidence and exacerbates tensions in the region,” he added.

James Brown, a professor of political science at Temple University in Japan, said the timing of China’s naval activities ahead of the G7 Hiroshima summit is important.

“While the focus in Hiroshima will be primarily on Ukraine, the Japanese hosts will try to tie the issue to security in East Asia,” Brown said.

“Prime Minister Kishida is likely to reiterate his message: ‘Today’s Ukraine could be East Asia tomorrow.’ By “East Asia” he means the prospect of a Chinese attack on Taiwan,” Brown said.

“China’s show of force is intended to prevent Japan from deepening security cooperation with the United States and other Western partners. It will probably achieve the opposite,” he said.