Tension Eased as China Says 15 Government Ships Are for ‘Big Catch of Fish’

Chinese ambassador to Japan Cheng Yonghua (left) and Toshihiro Nikai (second from left) meet in Tokyo on Wednesday. Photo: Kyodo

Chinese ambassador to Japan Cheng Yonghua (left) and Toshihiro Nikai (second from left) meet in Tokyo on Wednesday. Photo: Kyodo

In my post yesterday titled “Japan Panicked as 7 of 10 Chinese Government Ships Armed with Cannons”, I says based on HK radio that Japan regards the situation as very serious as it finds that 7 of the 10 Chinese government ships in the sea area near the disputed Diaoyu Islands (known as Senkakus in Japan) carry cannons. Japanese foreign minister directly contacted his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi and asked Chinese ships to leave as soon as possible.

China’s official media Global Times says in its report today that Japan has lodged 23 protests over the past 5 days through various channels against Chinese government ships and fishing boats operating within 12 nautical miles of the disputed Diaoyu Islands.

The operation of 15, the largest number ever, government ships in disputed waters is obviously China’s retaliation at Japan’s interference with China’s disputes in the South China Sea. Japan is not a party to the disputes nor a South China Sea country, but it has been urging China to respect the Hague ruling on the dispute and even expressed “deep concern” over China’s rejection of Hague arbitration ruling in its annual defense review on August 2.

However, neither Japan nor China wants tension to deteriorate without limit. Japan elected Toshihiro Nikai, a pro-Beijing politician, as secretary general of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party because after all Japan has lots of investment and interests in China. China, on the other hand, wants to keep good economic relations with Japan.

As a measure to ease the tension, Chinese ambassador to Japan Chen Yonghua visited Nikai to congratulate him. SCMP says in its report titled “Why are Chinese vessels sailing off the Diaoyus? According to Beijing’s envoy, they’re after ‘big fish’” today that Nikai expressed his concerns to Chen about the operations of large number of Chinese government ships in disputed waters.

Chen was previously very tough and contended that the area is China’s territory waters, hinting that Chinese ships were there to claim China’s sovereignty. However, to Nikai who he regards as a friend, he said instead that the unprecedented large number of 15 Chinese government ships were there for a “big catch of fish”.

SCMP says that Nikai said he was told by Cheng Yonghua that “fish were markedly concentrated” in the area around the islets. As Chen told Nikai Beijing would address the situation “sincerely” and has agreed with Nikai on a plan to seek an amicable solution through dialogue, the crisis must have been over now.

However, there has been no sign that China is withdrawing its government ships and its fishing boats have remained there to conduct large-scale fishing.

This blogger has pointed out in his previous posts that the disputed islands are but useless rocks and what China care is the fish and energy resources around them. Now China is getting the benefits of having the disputed islands by exploiting the fish and energy resources there. Is there any need for China to take the disputed islands by force? Better maintaining the profitable status quo and let Japan has nominal administration of the disputed islands. What is the point to have military conflict with Japan for those worthless rocks?

Comments by Chan Kai Yee on SCMP’s report, full text of which can be viewed at:


6 Comments on “Tension Eased as China Says 15 Government Ships Are for ‘Big Catch of Fish’”

  1. Hey, awesome site you have here


  2. Simon says:

    The only big catch I sea around Daioyu Islands is sinking and capturing Jap patrol boats and navy ships.


  3. Simon says:

    Worthless rock? Tell that to the Japs. They are Chinese islands and a strategic water way that could anable China to break out of the first island chain. This is not lost on Japan and America and neither should be with China.


    • Steve says:

      Good post-Agreed…Those rocks and reefs are worth it’s weight as foundation for future island engineering and strategic waterway. Time will tell if drilling into the Diaoyu island can produce
      well freshwater or even oil. Also, big catch of fish farming.


  4. Fre Okin says:

    Going after the big fishes. Brilliant explanation. This is factual as this is fishing season and China want to make sure her fishing boats are protected from Japanese aggression. The topography of Diaoyu/Senkaku cluster of islands give these fishes a great place for food and shelter, so this is why they hang out there.

    Similar scenario could probably be observed in the clusters of ‘rocks’ in the Spratlys, so Philippines and Vietnam should lay out a welcome mat for the big Chinese fishing boats coming to their neighborhood soon!


  5. Steve says:

    China’s administrators are indeed articulate with the concept of ‘big catch of fish’ and quite methodical in it’s approach to secure fish and energy resources.

    However, Ambassador Chen Yonghua’s initial toughness by hinting that China is claiming sovereignty (Diaoyu island) would have send shivers up the spine of the Japanese. I would have thought that the big fish is referred to the Diaoyu island.

    China’s initial plan A is to intimidate and anticipate Japan’s counter with its armed coastguard ships against 7 of China’s coastguard vessels armed with cannons. And if the Japanese fires the first shot, the Diaoyu island will be captured and returned to the Motherland.

    Plan B, is to secure fish and energy resources irrespective of the results of plan A. In other words, What China Wants, China Gets. Wonderful concept.