News Briefs – August 3, 2016

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China holds live-fire navy drills in East China Sea

China’s navy has fired dozens of missiles and torpedoes during exercises in the East China Sea that come amid heightened maritime tensions in the region, underscoring Beijing’s determination to back up its sovereignty claims with force if needed.
The live-fire drills that began Aug. 1 follow China’s strident rejection of an international arbitration panel’s ruling last month that invalidated Beijing’s claims to a vast swath of the South China Sea.
That led to days of angry statements from Beijing, followed by live-firing naval exercises in the South China Sea and the launch of regular aerial patrols in the area.
On Aug. 2, the Defense Ministry said the East China Sea exercises were aimed at improving the “intensity, precision, stability and speed” of its military.
“An information technology-based war at sea is sudden, cruel and short, which requires fast transition to combat status, quick preparation and high assault efficiency,” the ministry said.
The drills include ships, submarines, aircraft and coast guard forces, illustrating China’s growing emphasis on integrated training under realistic conditions.
China’s navy has been closing the gap with its U.S. rival in both ship numbers and technology, including the deployment of advanced anti-ship missiles, nuclear submarines and the country’s first aircraft carrier.
While global attention has been drawn to the South China Sea, where five governments exercise territorial claims overlapping with China’s, Beijing also operates extensively in the East China Sea, where it claims a string of uninhabited islands controlled by Japan. AP
 

Japan defense papers raises concerns about China, NKorea

Japan called North Korea’s nuclear and missile development a “grave and imminent threat” to the region and international security, and criticized China’s increasingly assertive military action as “dangerous” in its annual defense report.
The report, approved Aug. 2 by the Cabinet, comes as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government pushes for Japan to take on greater military roles abroad. This year’s 484-page report allocated several more pages to each country than the previous one.
It cited North Korea’s technological advances in recent nuclear tests and says Pyongyang might have achieved the capability to miniaturize atomic weapons and develop warheads.
“North Korea’s military activity has increased tensions on the Korean Peninsula, and become a grave and imminent threat not only to Japan but also to the security in the region and the international society,” the report said. It reiterated concerns that North Korean may have acquired a missile capable of launching as far as 10,000 kilometers (6,200 miles).
The report called China’s reclamation moves in the South China Sea a provocation, and urged Beijing to accept a recent international arbitration ruling.
It said China’s escalating activity in the East China Sea caused Japan to scramble against Chinese warplanes more than 570 times last year. The report said China has stepped up activity around Japan-controlled islands that Beijing also claims, adding that a Chinese warship entered a strip of water just outside Japanese claimed waters in the area.
China’s actions over conflicting maritime claims are unilateral and high-handed, and some of them are “dangerous actions that could trigger unanticipated situations,” the report said. “They raise strong concern about what may happen in the future.” AP