In the last year, China has increased the military activity and actions in the South China Sea around the so-called Nine Dash Line — China’s expansive claim into the region which is in conflict with several other international claims.
China's Nine-Dash Line
As USNI reports, Capt. James Fannell, deputy chief of staff intelligence and information operations for PACFLEET, notes that while China has long trained for an amphibious invasion of Taiwan during military exercises but has expanded its training to include a similar attack on Japanese holdings in the East China Sea. He concludes, "the PLA has been given the new task to be able to conduct a short sharp war to destroy Japanese forces in the East China Sea following with what can only be expected a seizure of the Senkakus or even a southern Ryukyu [islands]."
As part of China’s Mission Action 2013 exercise — a massive exercise between the all branches of China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) — the military trained for taking the Senkaku Islands, said Capt. James Fannell, deputy chief of staff intelligence and information operations for PACFLEET.
View China’s Training Plan in a larger map
“We witnessed the massive amphibious and cross military region enterprise — Mission Action 2013,” Fannell said at the West 2014 conference on Feb. 13 in San Diego, Calif.
“[We] concluded that the PLA has been given the new task to be able to conduct a short sharp war to destroy Japanese forces in the East China Sea following with what can only be expected a seizure of the Senkakus or even a southern Ryukyu [islands] — as some of their academics say.”
“As a senior U.S. government official recently stated, there is growing concern that China’s pattern of behavior in the South China Sea reflects an incremental effort by China to assert control of the area contained in the so-called 9-dash line despite the objections of its neighbors, and despite the lack of any explanation or apparent basis under international law.” Fannell said.
He then detailed a series of what he called aggressive actions taken by China against its neighbors over the past year. Some of those actions, including combat drills in the south Philippine Sea were described as China’s “protection of maritime rights.”
“By the way, protection of maritime rights is a Chinese euphemism for coerce seizure of coastal rights of China’s neighbors,” Fannell said.
“Tensions in the South and East China Seas have deteriorated with the Chinese Coast Guard playing the role of antagonist, harassing China’s neighbors while PLA Navy ships, their protectors, (make) port calls throughout the region promising friendship and cooperation.”
Fannell’s assessment of the Chinese lies seemingly in contrast to American efforts to forge close military-to-military ties with the country.