First F-35B Squadron Moves to Japan

By: Valerie Insinna, January 10, 2017 (Photo Credit: US Marine Corps)

WASHINGTON — A Marine Corps F-35B squadron has transferred from the United States to Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni in Japan, marking the first permanent international deployment of the joint strike fighter, the service announced Tuesday.

Marine Corps spokesman Capt Kurt Stahl told Defense News that 10 F-35Bs from Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 121 (VMFA-121) departed Marine Corps Air Station Yuma in Arizona on Monday, with the first jets slated to arrive in Japan on Wednesday. All 10 F-35s will arrive at Iwakuni by Thursday. Eventually, an additional six jets will be relocated from Yuma to Iwakuni, bringing the squadron up to a full 16 aircraft.

VMFA-121 is a part of the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing.

“The transition of VMFA-121 from MCAS Yuma to MCAS Iwakuni marks a significant milestone in the F-35B program as the Marine Corps continues to lead the way in the advancement of stealth fighter attack aircraft,” the service said in a statement.

The Marine Corps’ short takeoff vertical landing version of the F-35 is the first variant of the aircraft to be permanently stationed outside of the United States. VMFA-121 became the US military’s first operational F-35 squadron in July 2015. Since then, the squadron “has continued to fly sorties and employ ordnance as part of their normal training cycle,” the Marine Corps said.

One such demonstration was Exercise Steel Knight in December 2015, a live-fire exercise that combined ground and air operations. The F-35B also took part in a proof-of-concept demo aboard amphibious assault ship America last October, where pilots tested the jet’s ability to operate in harsh at-sea conditions with a range of weapons.

The Air Force will become the next US service to internationally deploy the joint strike fighter, but is opting to locate its first squadron in Europe rather than in the Asia-Pacific. The F-35A will be permanently based at Royal Air Force Base Lakenheath in England as early as 2020.

Source: Defense News “First F-35B Squadron Moves to Japan”

Note: This is Defense News’ report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.

China navy confirms carrier conducted drills in South China Sea

China's Kuznetsov-class aircraft carrier Liaoning sails the water in East China Sea, in this handout photo taken December 25, 2016 by Japan Self-Defence Force and released by the Joint Staff Office of the Defense Ministry of Japan. Joint Staff Office of the Defense Ministry of Japan/HANDOUT via REUTERS

China’s Kuznetsov-class aircraft carrier Liaoning sails the water in East China Sea, in this handout photo taken December 25, 2016 by Japan Self-Defence Force and released by the Joint Staff Office of the Defense Ministry of Japan. Joint Staff Office of the Defense Ministry of Japan/HANDOUT via REUTERS

China’s sole aircraft carrier conducted drills in the South China Sea, the navy said, days after neighboring Taiwan said the carrier and accompanying ships had passed 90 nautical miles south of the island amid renewed tension between the two sides.

The Soviet-built Liaoning aircraft carrier and accompanying warships sailed round the east coast of Taiwan in what China called a routine exercise complying with international law.

The carrier’s J-15 fighters conducted flight exercises in “complex sea conditions” on Monday, the People’s Liberation Army Navy said on its official microblog late the same day.

The carrier group also ran helicopter exercises, it said, but did not give details on the exact location.

China claims most of the South China Sea through which about $5 trillion in ship-borne trade passes every year. Neighbors Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam also have claims.

The drills also come at a time of heightened strain with self-ruled Taiwan, which Beijing claims as its own, following U.S. President-elect Donald Trump’s telephone call with the island’s president that upset Beijing.

Last month China conducted its first ever live-fire drills using an aircraft carrier close to Korea and announced on Dec. 25 that the Liaoning and its accompanying fleet would carry out what it called routine exercises in the Western Pacific.

Taiwan’s Defence Ministry said on Dec. 26 that the Liaoning and five accompanying ships had entered the top half of the South China Sea after passing south of Taiwan, and later docked at a base on China’s Hainan island.

The flotilla raised alarm in Japan when it steamed between the Japanese islands of Miyako and Okinawa.

Japan said one of its Maritime Self Defense Force ships and a P3C patrol aircraft had spotted six Chinese naval vessels including the Liaoning traveling through the passage, and they also scrambled jets after a helicopter that took off from a Chinese frigate flew near Miyako Island.

China has been angered recently by U.S. naval patrols near islands that China claims in the South China Sea. This month, a Chinese navy ship seized a U.S. underwater drone in the South China Sea. China later returned it.

China’s air force conducted long-range drills this month above the East and South China Seas that rattled Japan and Taiwan. China said those exercises were also routine.

(Reporting by John Ruwitch; Editing by Ben Blanchard and Nick Macfie)

Source: Reuters “China navy confirms carrier conducted drills in South China Sea”

Note: This is Reuters report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.

China Shall Not Regard Japan as Its Enemy

A Japanese flag flutters atop the Bank of Japan building in Tokyo, Japan, September 21, 2016. REUTERS/Toru Hanai/File Photo

A Japanese flag flutters atop the Bank of Japan building in Tokyo, Japan, September 21, 2016. REUTERS/Toru Hanai/File Photo

People, especially some Chinese people, regard Japan as China’s enemy. That is quite natural as Japan brought misery to China in its aggression against China before the end of World War II.

Memory of such misery shall first of all stimulate Chinese people to make great efforts to realize their Chinese dream for the rejuvenation of their great motherland.

Second, China shall prevent the militarization of Japan to prevent Japan from growing militarily strong to repeat its aggression in Asia.

However, in China’s diplomacy, China shall deal with Japan friendly as long as Japan has shown repentance of its past war crimes.

Now, Japan is intensifying its development of weapons, but that is obviously aimed at self-defense instead of aggression.

Japan wants to contain China as it is afraid of China’s retaliation of Japan’s war crimes in the past. However, it knows well that it is no rival to a rising China.

In spite of Western media’s decades of doomsday prediction, Chinese economy has kept on rising while Japanese economy remains stagnant. Time is on China’s side! Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe knows that well. His only way out is to rely on the US for economic growth and military protection. Obama’s pivot to Asia to contain China precisely provides Abe with what he wants.

Sorry for Abe, the new US president Donald Trump wants to scrap TPP, Obama’s economic approach to contain China. Abe’s dream to have better access to US market and reduce China’s access to US market by TPP has been broken. His only hope for Japan’s economic growth lies now in China’s growing huge market.

When he mainly relied on the US, Abe had no enthusiasm for China-South Korea-Japan plus ASEAN free trade area (ASEAN + 3). He even visited Yasukuni Shrine to upset China and South Korea.

Without US TPP, Abe now wants success in the tripartite talks for the free trade area earnestly. Reuters’ report yesterday titled “Japan eyes trilateral talks with China, South Korea in February: Kyodo” proves that.

In fact, according to SCMP’s report on November 22, 2016 titled “Xi Jinping, Abe meet briefly on Apec sidelines … but China and Japan give differing accounts of it”, in a 10-minute meeting between Abe and Chinese President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of APEC summit, Abe told Xi that he would like to seek overall improvement in Sino-Japanese ties. Kotaro Nogami, Japan’s deputy chief cabinet secretary, quoted Abe as telling Xi, “While dealing with outstanding issues in an appropriate manner and from a broad perspective, I’d like to forge a stable and good relationship.”

At that time Japan would soon host an annual trilateral summit of Japan, South Korea and China mainly for the free trade area. In his meeting with Xi, Abe expressed his desire to have Chinese Premier Li visit Japan for the trilateral summit but Xi gave no clear answer to that request.

Now the summit was postponed due to impeachment of South Korean President Park Geun-hye. Reuters says in its report, “Japan eyes trilateral talks with China, South Korea in February: Kyodo” that Japan approached China and South Korea about holding the trilateral summit in Tokyo in February and has received enthusiastic response from South Korea but no response from China yet. It is still unknown whether Premier Li will attend the summit.

If Li does not attend, there will not likely be substantial progress in the establishment of the free trade area that Abe wants now.

The Japan issue is quite a tricky one for Chinese leaders. Reuters mentions in its report China’s disagreement with Japan on North Korea, deployment of THAAD in South Korea and Japanese Defense Minister’s decision to visit the controversial Yasukuni Shrine. It tests Chinese leader’s wisdom.

China shall use the economic attraction to draw Japan and South Korea to its side and sever their ties with the US. China has already won over US ally the Philippines. If it can win over Japan and South Korea, the US will be completely isolated in Asia. That must be China’s strategic goal, but it is very difficult to achieve.

If Trump is wise, he shall win over Russia, which Obama has pushed away to Chinese side. The China-Russia de facto alliance alone makes the US unable to achieve anything in Asia. However, winning over Russia without hurting US ties with its European allies requires top wisdom.

It is very interesting to watch who is wise and who is stupid now when Trump comes to power.

I am a Chinese. I certainly love China and hope Chinese leaders will act wisely. However, when they are stupid, I certainly will attack such stupidity fiercely for China’s interests. Pro-China readers may be surprised by that but they shall know covering up or beautifying China’s stupidity does China no good.

Laughing at US stupidity may perhaps help the US become wise, but due to US arrogance and lack of confidence in my good intention, the US will not correct. I cherish no hostility to American people. I hope US democracy will really enable American people instead of vested interests to dominate US politics. Then the US will not be so stupid as to pursue world hegemony when it now simply lack the financial resources to do so and the hegemony will not benefit American people.

Look, the US now lacks funds to fix its poor infrastructures but is wasting lots of money in developing expensive weapons that cannot enable it to win any war.

Just imagine, how can a country regard itself as a dominant world superpower when it is unable to annihilate quickly very backward ISIS that has no industry, no weapon supply but from the US by capturing US weapons from US proxies.

Comment by Chan Kai Yee on SCMP’s report, full text of which can be found at and on Reuters’ report, full text of which is reblogged below:

Japan eyes trilateral talks with China, South Korea in February: Kyodo

Japan has approached China and South Korea about holding a trilateral summit in Tokyo in February aimed at deepening cooperation on such issues as a free trade deal, the environment and counter-terrorism, Kyodo news agency reported on Saturday.

Disagreements over North Korea and historical issues have long dogged relations between the three Asian powers, though they have held several such trilateral meetings since 2008, most recently in Seoul in 2015.

South Korea is enthusiastic about participating in the proposed Tokyo summit while China has yet to clarify its position, Kyodo said, citing unnamed diplomatic sources.

China is unlikely to announce its decision before U.S. President-elect Donald Trump’s policy on Asia becomes more clear, Kyodo said.

If the summit does go ahead, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and Korean Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn, in lieu of recently-impeached President Park Geun-hye, are expected to meet around February 10, Kyodo added.

Japan and South Korea said earlier this month they would impose new unilateral sanctions on North Korea over its nuclear and ballistic missile programs, but China has expressed its opposition to such measures.

Beijing also opposes a decision by South Korea and the United States to deploy a Terminal High Altitude Area Defence (THAAD) anti-missile system to counter missile threats from North Korea.

China and South Korea have both been angered by the Japanese defense minister’s decision on Thursday to visit a controversial shrine to Japan’s war dead. Beijing and Seoul see the Yasukuni shrine in Tokyo as a symbol of Japan’s militarism and a reminder of its wartime atrocities.

Japan had originally intended to host the trilateral summit this year, but it postponed the plan due to political uncertainty in South Korea. Tokyo proposed the meeting to Seoul in mid-December following Park’s impeachment, Kyodo said.

(Reporting by Minami Funakoshi; Editing by Gareth Jones)

Note: I reblogged the full text of Reuters’ report here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.

Japan to bolster coast guard amid island dispute with China

Shinzo Abe, Japan's prime minister, attends a working lunch with Vladimir Putin, Russia's president, (not pictured), at the prime minister's official residence in Tokyo, Japan, December 16, 2016. REUTERS/Tomohiro Ohsumi

Shinzo Abe, Japan’s prime minister, attends a working lunch with Vladimir Putin, Russia’s president, (not pictured), at the prime minister’s official residence in Tokyo, Japan, December 16, 2016. REUTERS/Tomohiro Ohsumi

Japan will step up efforts to bolster its coastguard as a territorial dispute with China over a group of East China Sea islets shows no signs of abating, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said on Wednesday.

Japan has long been at odds with China over the disputed islands, controlled by Japan but claimed also by China. They are called the Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China.

Coastguard vessels from both countries routinely shadow each other near the uninhabited islets, stoking concern that an accidental collision or other complications could trigger a clash.

Japan’s coastguard budget for the year starting next April will exceed 210 billion yen ($1.8 billion) to help add five new large patrol ships to its fleet and increase the maritime law enforcement agency’s personnel by more than 200, Abe said.

The coastguard’s initial budget for this fiscal year, to March 2017, was 187.7 billion yen.

“Since the fall of 2012, Chinese government vessels have sailed near the Senkaku almost daily, and have entered Japan’s territorial waters around the islands a few times a month,” Abe told a meeting of relevant ministers.

Abe said the coastguard had to protect Japan’s waters and people and “ensure security and peace of mind”.

Transport Minister Keiichi Ishii, whose portfolio includes the coastguard, told reporters the situation over the disputed islets was “heading for a higher degree of urgency” because of increasing Chinese incursions.

(Reporting by Kiyoshi Takenaka) Wed Dec 21, 2016 | 11:15am EST

Source: Reuters “Japan to bolster coast guard amid island dispute with China”

Note: This is Reuters report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.

Japan Will Suffer if Trump Gets What He Wants from China

President-elect Donald Trump greets Iowa Governor Terry Branstad during the rally in Des Moines. Branstad is to become the United States’ next ambassador to China. Photo: Associated Press

President-elect Donald Trump greets Iowa Governor Terry Branstad during the rally in Des Moines. Branstad is to become the United States’ next ambassador to China. Photo: Associated Press

Obama’s TPP aims at containing China but he fails to see that China will retaliate to make it harder for US products to enter the vast Chinese market. I have pointed out repeatedly in my previous posts that the US is Japan’s major competitor in Chinese market due to growing demand for high-tech products there. Japan’s Abe is shrewd in encouraging the US to contain China while he himself has been trying hard to improve Japan’s trade relations with China for better access to Chinese market.

In addition, the concessions the US has made to Japan provide Japan with much better access than China to US market, which is China’s biggest export market.

Sorry for Abe, TPP will soon be scrapped. US new leader is much shrewder. He knows containing China means containing the US itself. The US wants better access to the Chinese market as it is not only the largest but will grow even larger.

Quite a few analysts and media believe that Trump will carry on Obama’s stupid policies that hurt the US itself while hurting China.

They think that first of all, Trump will pressure China in the South China Sea and may cause the US to fight a war with China.

What US boys will die for in such a war? What will the US get if it wins the war? The US will help the Philippines to get some rocks and the rights to exploit fish and energy resources there but will get nothing but a long-term tenacious enemy that will grow even stronger despite the war.

Reuters report “Trump packs trade team with veterans of steel wars with China” yesterday gives the impression that Trump is making preparations for a trade war with China. Trump is not so stupid and to have a trade war that hurts both the US and China.

On the contrary, instead of having China as an enemy, Trump wants to have China as a better friend. That was why in his latest speech on China in Iowa, he did not even mention the South China Sea. He only wants China to abide by WTO rules that China has promised to abide by, so as to make China respect US intellectual property rights, reduce unfair import taxes on US goods and not to control the exchange rate of Chinese currency.

Diplomatically, Trump only wants China to control North Korea.

SCMP says in its report yesterday on Trump’s speech, “Trump said of China. ‘Other than that, they’ve been wonderful, right?’”

Moreover, SCMP quotes Trump as saying in the speech, “One of the most important relationships we must improve, and we have to improve, is our relationship with China”.

Such improvement is possible as China is carrying out the reforms to enable Chinese enterprises and people to develop intellectual property, especially the patents and trademarks for its products in world market. For that, it has to respect others’ intellectual property.

In its reform, China wants its currency to become a major international currency so that it has to let market determine the exchange rate of its currency.

China has to follow WTO’s rules on import tax and Trump only wants China to abide by the rules. There will be no difficulties for China to treat imports from the US fairly.

As for North Korea, China has been trying its best.

SCMP says that Trump’s administration would focus on two rules: “Buy American and hire American,”

For “buy American”, Trump has to encourage US firms to develop high-tech products better than Japan’s to have a greater market share in China.

For example, China has taken over Japan’s export market for low-end electric appliance such as fans, television sets and refrigerators, but Japan has developed expensive high-tech products to maintain a share of the market.

In addition, Japan has developed new high-tech products. For example, bread machines. As a bread lover, I first purchased a French one and then a much more expensive Japanese high-tech one. The bread made by the Japanese machine is much better and the machine operates entirely automatic. I simply give up he French one.

When my wife visited his relatives and friend in Shanghai and Zhejiang, China recently, she found that quite a few of them have bought bread machines and are making bread at home. My wife gave them some of the bread made by my machine. They were surprised at the fine quality of my bread and wanted to buy the expensive Japanese machines. As Chinese people grow richer, there will be great demand for high-tech imports. The US has the technology to win competition in that market.

That will be the way for Trump to achieve his goal of “buy American” at the expense of Japan.

The US will no longer contain China with its TPP and creation of tension in the South China Sea to benefit Abe.

Moreover, US products will grab market share from Japan in Chinese market.

Trump’s new policies will benefit the US and China at the expense of Japan.

Comment by Chan Kai Yee on SCMP’s and Reuters’ reports, full text of which can be found respectively at and

The most important bilateral relationship in the world? China-Japan

Jean-Pierre Lehmann For The Straits Times

How will Japan fare in a Sino-centric Asian century? It bears reminding that after World War II, Japan embarked on a policy of ‘shedding Asia’ and entering the West. It now needs to re-enter Asia and build an equitable relationship with China.

Tomorrow, Wednesday, Dec 7, marks the 75th anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. April 28 next year will mark the 65th anniversary of the United States-Japan Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security, signed in September 1951.

It took just a decade for Japan to move from being America’s most hated enemy for launching the 1941 attack that President Franklin D. Roosevelt said grimly “will live in infamy” to becoming its major Pacific ally and pampered protege after the 1951 treaty was signed.

In the course of that decade, China, which had been the US’ close ally throughout the Pacific War and fellow victorious power, was ostracised behind the “bamboo curtain”, politically and economically.

Thus was the Asia-Pacific order of the second half of the 20th century, corresponding to the broader global order set after 1945 by Washington, established.

The Japanese modern historical narrative is exceptional. Whereas from the late 18th century, when almost all of Asia was colonised or otherwise subjugated by the West, Japan stood out as the only Asian country to “join” the West and become in turn an imperialist power in its own neighbourhood.


Japan’s 20th-century wars with China had Asian regional cataclysmic effects; were war to break out between the two in the 21st century, it would have devastating global cataclysmic effects. With the US no longer willing to provide protection for Japan, the China-Japan relationship has become, to paraphrase Mike Mansfield, the most important bilateral relationship, bar none.

Having witnessed what happened to China when it sought to resist the apparently inexorable Eastern advance of Western power – the two devastatingly humiliating Opium Wars, 1839-1842 and 1856-1860 – the Japanese leadership under the Meiji Restoration (1868) decided that accommodation was the better part of valour.

In the spirit of Datsu-A Nyu-O, the term subsequently coined by the 19th-century Japanese thought leader (and founder of the prestigious private Keio university) Yukichi Fukuzawa, Japan proceeded to “shed Asia and enter Europe”.

In the ensuing decades, Japan underwent a quite remarkable reform programme (only to be rivalled perhaps by the Chinese reform programme undertaken under Deng Xiaoping over a century later), thereby emerging as a full-fledged industrial and imperialist Asian global power.

In the course of the last century-and-a-half, whereas Japan has had a number of Asian colonies (Taiwan, Korea and Manchuria), it has never had any Asian allies. Japan has stood out as literally the “odd Asian man out”.

On the other hand, it had a succession of Western allies. From 1902 to 1922, there was the Anglo-Japanese alliance, linking the great imperial power of the day, Great Britain, to the emerging Japanese empire.

In the course of the 1930s, relations with Britain (and the US) soured, leading Japan to become the ally of Nazi Germany in its wars against China and the US.

Since 1952, it has been the US’ closest ally in the Asia-Pacific. It followed Washington’s foreign policy lead to the letter. Thus, it refused to recognise the Beijing government of the People’s Republic of China, instead recognising the Taipei government of the so-called Republic of China. Japan eventually switched, but only after President Richard Nixon’s surprise visit to Beijing in 1972.

Though there were occasional tiffs, especially in respect to what the Japanese referred to as boeki masatsu (trade friction), Japan was able to prosper quite fantastically under the American “nuclear umbrella”.

The distinguished former senator Mike Mansfield, a long-term American ambassador to Tokyo (1977-1988), famously announced and reiterated that the US-Japan relationship was “the most important bilateral relationship in the world, bar none”. This was a time when the two heads of government, Mr Ronald Reagan and Mr Yasuhiro Nakasone, became the first to call each other by their first (in fact, nick) names in what was called the “Ron-Yasu relationship”.

The 1980s, however, also corresponded to a decade during which the Japanese economy kept growing as if on anabolic steroids, in contrast with what appeared a sclerotic US economy. Many Japanese believed it was only a matter of reasonably short time before the Japanese economy would take over the US.

There emerged a syndrome among Japanese government, business and thought leaders called kenbei (contempt for America).

The most vivid illustration was a quite offensively arrogant book co-authored by then governor of Tokyo Shintaro Ishihara and co-founder of Sony Akio Morita entitled The Japan That Can Say “No” (1989).

In 1993, a senior Japanese official, Mr Kazuo Ogura, at the time head of the Economics Bureau of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, penned a lengthy essay essentially arguing that the US (and the West generally) was heading for a dead-end and that the hour for Japan, which was in any case a superior civilisation, had come.

In fact, in the course of the ensuing years, two major developments occurred. The Japanese economy tanked and entered its lost decades, from which it still has not emerged, while China’s economy soared, overtaking Japan, then the US (in purchasing power parity, or PPP, terms).

China, not Japan, became the newly risen Asian global power. Having been based in Tokyo during the 1980s and visiting the country frequently in the 1990s, I can vouch for the fact that mainly due to atavistic perceptions, prejudice and contempt for China, the Japanese did not see this major Chinese transformation occurring. Tokyo was taken completely off guard and has remained in a state of strategic torpor.


In this century, on the one hand, Tokyo has had fraught relations with Beijing, essentially over territorial disputes in the East China Sea and over historical legacies, while it has desperately sought to return to Washington’s protective embrace.

To that end, Tokyo enthusiastically adhered to the Washington-driven Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which excluded China, while at the same time, at Washington’s bidding, it refused to become a founding member of the Chinese-sponsored Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), as a step to trying to contain China’s rise.

Japan was one of only two countries to refuse the invitation to join (the other being the US). Membership of AIIB is universal, including a large number of both EU and non-EU European countries, a small number of African and Latin American countries, and a plethora of Asian countries, including Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Singapore and South Korea. At a meeting of the Silk Road Chamber of International Commerce in Xi’an in September, there were representatives from pretty much throughout the planet, with, however, Japan (the odd Asian man out) conspicuous by its absence.

So what will Japan do now in the light of United States President- elect Donald Trump’s declared intention to pivot out of the Asia- Pacific, including abandoning the TPP?

Henceforth, Tokyo’s greatest 21st-century challenges include, first, reversing the 19th-century policy, which is not shed, but “re-enter Asia”, and second, establishing an equitable, constructive and cooperative relationship with Beijing. Japan’s 20th-century wars with China had Asian regional cataclysmic effects. Were war to break out between the two in the 21st century, it would have devastating global cataclysmic effects.

With the US no longer willing to provide protection for Japan, the China-Japan relationship has become, to paraphrase Mr Mansfield, the most important bilateral relationship, bar none.

While much attention is being paid now to the US-China relationship and the cross-strait relations between Taiwan and China, and the one-China policy, I consider the China-Japan relationship to be the one most challenging to manage – a point I have made on previous occasions in this column. With a new President Trump soon to be sworn in, it has become all the more urgent, indeed burning, to reiterate the point.

• The writer is emeritus professor of international political economy at IMD business school, with campuses in Lausanne and Singapore; and visiting professor at Hong Kong University.

Source: Strait Times “The most important bilateral relationship in the world? China-Japan”

Note: This is Strait Times’ article I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the article’s views.

British fighters to overfly South China Sea; carriers in Pacific after 2020: envoy

A British Royal Air Force Typhoon aircraft in flight during a mission over central Iraq September 21, 2016. REUTERS/Petros Karadjias

A British Royal Air Force Typhoon aircraft in flight during a mission over central Iraq September 21, 2016. REUTERS/Petros Karadjias

By David Brunnstrom | WASHINGTON Fri Dec 2, 2016 | 11:45am EST

British fighter planes visiting Japan will fly over the South China Sea and Britain will sail aircraft carriers in the Pacific once they are operational in 2020, given concerns about freedom of navigation there, Britain’s ambassador to the United States said on Thursday.

The envoy, Kim Darroch, told a Washington think tank that British Typhoon aircraft currently deployed on a visit to Japan would fly across disputed parts of the South China Sea to assert international overflight rights, but gave no time frame.

Speaking at an event also attended by Japan’s ambassador to Washington, Darroch said that most future British defense capacity would have to be directed toward the Middle East, but added:

“Certainly, as we bring our two new aircraft carriers on stream in 2020, and as we renew and update our defense forces, they will be seen in the Pacific.

“And we absolutely share the objective of this U.S. administration, and the next one, to protect freedom of navigation and to keep sea routes and air routes open.”

In spite of Britain’s preoccupations in the Middle East, “we will try to play our part” in the Pacific, he said.

Four British fighter planes arrived in Japan in October to take part in exercises with Japanese forces at a time of rising tensions over China’s pursuit of disputed territory in East Asia, including the South and East China Seas.

In Beijing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said all countries had freedom of navigation and overflight in the South China Sea, in accordance with international law, and there was no dispute about that.

“We hope the relevant party can earnestly respect regional countries’ efforts to safeguard peace and stability in the South China Sea,” he told a daily news briefing.

A commentary on the official Chinese news agency Xinhua took a stronger tone, saying UK-China ties could be hurt.

“Such remarks create the impression that London may soon deviate from a largely aloof attitude over the South China Sea issue and start playing a meddling role there like the United States and Japan,” it said.

“Should a British warplane embark on a so-called “freedom of navigation” mission in the South China Sea, it would only serve to further complicate the issue and weigh on thriving China-Britain ties.”

Japan’s ambassador, Kenichiro Sasae, said the United States, Japan and Britain discussed greater naval cooperation at a meeting at the Pentagon in October and Tokyo welcomed greater British involvement in Asian security.

Darroch said British Prime Minister Theresa May and U.S. President-elect Donald Trump discussed the importance of all NATO members meeting their defense spending commitments in a telephone call this week, their second since Trump’s Nov. 8 election.

Darroch said all NATO states had committed to spending at least 2 percent of GDP on defense, yet only five, including the United States and Britain, were doing so.

“I think the criticism … during this election campaign that a number of NATO countries aren’t doing everything they can … is entirely fair and we will see how the incoming administration wants to take that forward,” he said.

Trump has criticized European NATO members for not meeting their spending commitments and has also called on U.S. Asian allies Japan and South Korea to pay more for their defense or risk the alliances.

Trump has said he plans to build up the U.S. military, and advisers have said he will pursue a policy of “peace through strength” in the Pacific in the face of China’s growing assertiveness.

The advisers say Trump can also be expected to take a more “robust” approach to naval operations to assert navigation rights in the South China Sea, a vital global trade route.

(Additional reporting by Michael Martina in Beijing; Editing by Jonathan Oatis and Clarence Fernandez)

Source: Reuters “British fighters to overfly South China Sea; carriers in Pacific after 2020: envoy”

Note: This is Reuters report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.