New developments within both regions illustrate how close to open combat the four countries are, and how quickly one incident could expand to war among very powerful nations.
Tokyo reported two January events where Chinese naval vessels targeted its East China Sea forces with fire-control radar. This specific type of radar is used almost exclusively to assist guided weapons systems in their flight toward a target. It’s an unmistakable action that can be the first step to open combat, and was taken seriously enough by the Japanese captain to prompt a combat alert aboard his vessel.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry responded to the allegations by saying it hadn’t heard about the engagements until news of the events appeared on international news. It has since said that the event didn’t happen and is a total Japanese fabrication. Whether it’s true or not China is using Japan’s claim to prove Tokyo is preparing for war.
If Chinese ships did engage their fire-control radar, it may be in Beijing’s interest to deny it because either it approved the maneuver, or the ship’s captains acted independently. Both scenarios offer a long list of concerns that would be easiest for China to address if avoided entirely.
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