Battleland

Chinese View Of Islands Conflict: “Make It Quick”

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Reuters

An island in the disputed Senkaku/Diaoyu group in the East China Sea.

TOKYOChina’s airwaves and blogosphere are full of armchair generals predicting swift and righteous victory over Japan if fighting breaks out in the East China Sea. Overheated nonsense, mostly. Everybody thinks their side will win quick and easy before a war starts, but it rarely works out that way.

But at least one senior commander offers a view that – while not necessarily right or wrong – sheds light on how the People’s Liberation Army might view a potential conflict, and what it thinks of Japan’s armed forces.

“The battle to take over the Diaoyu Islands would not be a conventional operation. For either party involved in the war, it would be very difficult to employ their full military capabilities, because there would be no time for them to fully unfold in the fight. The real fight would be very short. It is very possible the war would end in a couple of days or even in a few hours,” said PLA Navy Rear Admiral Yin Zhou, a former director of the Navy Institute of Strategic Studies, in a recent primetime special on Beijing TV.

Japan and China have been squabbling over a group of tiny, uninhabited islands that the former calls Senkaku, and the latter, Diaoyu.

“The keys to winning the war are quick actions, and good planning,” says Zhou, a frequent commentator on military issues.  “First, the troops that go into the battle must be well-trained, elite troops. Second, the troops must have precision strike capabilities. Once surface targets or air targets are chosen, the troops must be able to hit those targets immediately and precisely. Good planning also refers to accurately grasping the enemy’s situation, especially its operational (troop and ship) dispositions. We have to be very clear which disposition is the key and then plan our operations accordingly.”

(Note: The translation here was provided by a member of the Western defense community in Beijing and has been edited to make it easier to read — every attempt has been made to stay faithful to the original Mandarin.)

Though officially pacifist, Japan has a powerful navy and air force. But its ground forces are still struggling to shed tank-heavy, Cold War roots and adopt a more mobile, flexible lineup. Two units that Zhou thinks could be involved in a Senkaku/Diaoyu conflict are the Western Army Infantry Regiment, which has primary responsibility for defending Japan’s southern island chain, and the First Airborne Brigade, a parachute unit that is part of Japan’ rapid-reaction force.

Says Zhou:

– “The First Airborne Brigade so far has about 2,000 soldiers. However, it does not have a capacity to deliver 2,000 people. It is only capable of delivering a couple of sections. Moreover, it does not have the capacity to deliver heavy equipment – only soldiers and light equipment. So, when the paratroopers land on the ground, their combat powers are very weak, and it is easy to surround and annihilate them. Without the support of heavy weapons, casualties would be huge.”

– “The Western Army Infantry Regiment also has some problems with its training. The soldiers are trained as a special operations force. They specialize in infiltrating coastlines where basic defenses are weak, making stealthy landings and sneaking in deep and conducting destructive attacks. As for a real, conventional amphibious capability, they don’t have one.”

I don’t necessarily agree with Zhou’s analysis. The biggest island in the Senkaku/Diaoyu group is barely big enough to hold an infantry platoon, so it’s unlikely the Japanese would be dropping large numbers of paratroopers there (and let’s not contemplate what the 18,000 Marines on nearby Okinawa would be doing all this time).

He’s right about the Western Army Infantry Regiment, though: it has no amphibious warfare capability. Which is why several hundred members of that unit have been in California the past month — training with Marines.

31 comments
chikot2000
chikot2000

Zhou opinion should be ignored. What military campaign did he win? What successful military operation did he led?

soulman
soulman

hey people!!

are we overlooking something here, I mean, as big as china's defences forces are, they don't have actual combat experience. Japan has not fought a war since it was defeated during the second world war, but has combat experience and knows from experience the types of things that can go wrong during a naval battle (Americas air craft carriers not being in Perl harbour). 

As far as logistics is concerned for moving their forces, America, apart from direct involvement, would supply these logistics to japan anyway. I am not a military person by any means, but I do follow very closely, what a country has learnt during a conflict (America having smaller rapid reaction forces for examples).

China feels that going in hard and fast will ultimately give them these disputed islands, but lets just see if their inexperience in actual war will ultimately prevail ( I doubt it). We can assume that computer simulations will give us a veiled sense of winning a war, but put it up against actual combat experience, then who do you think will win ?.

Japan surprised everyone by how fast it was able to build up its navy and bring to bare its fire power, only to be defeated by the will to live in a free society. You can employ as much fire and man power as you want in a conflict, but you can never defeat a people that don't want to be rulled by an invading force/s, japan and Germany tried.

thomas

AdrianKang
AdrianKang

China as super power in human capital and emerging market has been preparing a large military force ever since World War II is over. My opinion is that they are typical example of people who are very nationalistic and remember the past. I am not sure how many people did remember but Japan was worse than Nazi in Asia. They practiced genocide and took resources from China and Korea. The conflict about Island, it is not just about territorial conflict but recovering China's dignity in their history what they lost. Interestigly, I asked my Japanese if he really cares about it... the answer was "No, I dont even care what government does and most people are careless." But Chinese friends were different. they actively claimed and showed interest about China's issue. It just shows how strong legitimacy built into Chinese's thought and this will make difference: they are ready for whatever it takes to get the land back.

Babeouf
Babeouf

A non nuclear power cannot go to war with a nuclear power with any prospect of victory unless it has a nuclear armed ally. In this case  it is the ally who calls the shots. If Japan launches  a military attack on some part of the Chinese military will the US join in on the Japanese  side?Probably not. And even if the military exchange is instigated by the Chinese military, probably not. But in this event the US military is likely to change its planning from future  containment to future  war with China. And given the shifts in economic power a war sooner rather than later.

Observer234
Observer234

@RussMitchell So far, as the situation stands in the Senkaku/Diaoyu, the Chinese don't have to do anything more! They have already have their patrol boats there on almost a daily basis. The ball is now in Japan's court. What Japan chooses next, war, further provocation, or peace and settlement, will determine the course of events.

Vietnam and the Phillippines will not "freak out." Give them more credit than that. Both countries know that island disputes have been ongoing for decades. Vietnam, as militant as it is when it comes to dispute with China, also understands an overbearing American presence can present a threat to its own national security. Rembmer, a whole generation of Vietnamese fought against America for 8 long years. Millions of Vietnamese died at the hands of Americans, not Chinese.

As for American involvement? Yes, there are purported treaty obligations, but are Americans willing to shed their own blood for some territorial dispute in the Pacific? And if America goes to war, the same you ask of China, can be asked of America: Is American willing to risk WW3 and mutual annhilation?

RussMitchell
RussMitchell

This is a tactical assessment of a strategic issue, and should result in the individuals penning the opinions to get laughed out of the room.  For all our sakes, let nothing of this sort ever occur.

 So then the Chinese army moves to solidify their tactical gains by.... what, exactly? 

What happens when the Vietnamese **freak out,** reasonably assuming they're next in line, and use their new missile assets on anything and everything the PLA move into striking range?

What are their plans to repel American counter-strikes which we would be bound by treaty to deliver both to defend Japan and to guarantee freedom of navigation in the SCS (which we are also bound to), and the IMMEDIATE Filipino invitation of troops (already started) which would occur b/c they're weaker than the Vietnamese and already getting pushed around?

How does the Party survive the economic CATASTROPHE resulting from the ensuing collapse of shipping?

ZhanJinyang
ZhanJinyang

i am from china, my idea is that those militarily commentors are perceived as morons, have no real power and fancy war victory everywhere in the world

Observer123
Observer123

Taking Diaoyu/Senkaku is actually quite easy for the Chinese. They don't even have to land on it! Chinese objective is to ensure that no one else lands on it, which they are doing quite well right now in achieving this with their almost daily patrol boats. If Japan lands on it, you can be sure there will be a barrage of missiles from the Chinese hitting the islands in all directions. The Japanese can retaliate by hitting Chinese naval boats, but do they dare hit the Chinese mainland? If the Japanese do dare, then the Japanese mainland will be fair target for the Chinese. And let's not forget, there is also the nuclear factor. If things do get intense, the Chinese can easily resort to tactical nuclear missiles and bombs to target enemy naval vessels in order to get a clean swipe. Of course, the Chinese will limit their nuclear attacks to the sea at first. The most America can do is to retaliate in kind by attacking Chinese naval vessels. I doubt any nuclear retaliation from America will be targeted on Chinese land bases on the Chinese mainland. If that happens, however, you can be sure American land bases in Asia or even in the United States (e.g. San Diego) will be fair game for a Chinese nuclear attack. In that scenario, we are indeed entering the beginning of mankind's extinction, which I don't think America will want to escalate the war into. In any case, if the war is limited to the seas only, then Senkakus/Diaoyu will become a no-man's land, in which case, the Chinese objective is achieved. 

frankwall1965
frankwall1965

Sure there have been incidents where navy warships have aimed targeting radars at each other but as much as people seem to believe it, Japan and China are not going to war anytime soon. It will take a lot more than these islands to ignite a conflict. J-10s and F-15s have shadowed each other near the Senkakus...this happened before - Turkish and Greek fighters often clashed over disputed islands without a full conflict erupting.

The reality of the situation is that the trade relationship must take priority. China simply has way too much to loose.and as a result, legally, they are the one's who will receive international backing in any conflict. Just look at statistics regarding trade between China, Japan and other developed nations. Japan is a vital trading partner for China. If the Chinese are stupid enough to go to war with Japan, they might as well sever economic ties with Australia, Taiwan, South Korea and the United States. It would be a catastrophic economic domino effect. War is a no go for both countries.

Don_Bacon
Don_Bacon

Asia Times:
While "combat readiness" has become a party and military watchword of the early Xi Jinping era, Chinese authorities have been actively putting a dampener on expectations for military action among the general public of late.
http://www.atimes.com/atimes/China/CHIN-01-200213.html

If the balloon does go up it would naturally be a naval war not a ground war, and that might be something.that could involve the U.S. even though it says (or sort of says, it's not unambiguous) it doesn't want to be involved in territorial disputes

my.2c.opinion
my.2c.opinion

US is hoping it will be the biggest beneficiary of a war between two of its largest creditors. US must be hoping to be able to sell truckloads of arms to both sides in order to extinguish their debt. Besides the uncertainty created by war would be good for $ and US Govt treasuries. Hence the interest of the American media in poking their nose into a trivial border dispute between Japan and China and blowing it out of proportion.

MarkRcca
MarkRcca

They can probably take the islands without a fight, just by sending boats with marine infantry.  Landing a few hundred marines on the islands won't be  difficult. It's much more interesting how Japan would respond to that.

Observer234
Observer234

@Babeouf 

Is it war or not? "Planning" for a future war is a plain waste of money and resources. It's how military commercial contractors make their money. What's the use of building another multi-billion dollar jet, setting up more bases, and performing military exercises if you're not going to use it? The Chinese have no intention of invading main-island Japan, nor mainland America. To do so, will entail mutual destruction for both sides even without the "planning for a future war" because nuclear missiles/bombs alone will assure mutual destruction. These methods of planning for a future war will only feed into the industrial military business complex and bankrupt both America and Japan before a hypothetical war with China even starts. As a famous Chinese military tactician said, "The best way to win a war and defeat the enemy is to not even fight it."

Observer234
Observer234

I have yet to see a poll in China where people think the military commentators are morons. Judging by the Chinese blogosphere, it looks like the Chinese are pretty much up in arms over Japan's buying of the islands. It's actually quite stupid on the part of the Japanese. Up until last year, no Chinese naval vessels were patrolling the islands. Now, Chinese vessels are patrolling the islands almost everyday, and we are on the brink of a major war should either side miscalculate, or further provoke the other side.

BobWilliamKnight
BobWilliamKnight

@Observer123 china r not stopping any landings  lol keep it real they r merely an annoyance lol if Japan lands we can b sure chins can do nothing they start in with missiles ww3 stupid. how bout we drop missiles on u ? USA have far more firepower chins has no chance lol

MarkRcca
MarkRcca

@frankwall1965 Frank, I have a remarkable book published in the 1933, discussing how the Great World War was the last of the wars and that current international trade inter-dependency makes another such war impossible.   The same reasoning as yours, citing trade statistics and all, and yet another WW 10 years later.  Human nature is complex and is driven by many more factors than just desire for mutual prosperity.  So, I hope you're right, but anything can happen.

MarkRcca
MarkRcca

@my.2c.opinion It's not only the US.  South Korea so far has been benefiting nicely, as a lot of Japanese imports to China (such as automobiles) have been replaced by Korean ones.   

You should also take a look at some other international press (for example Indian and Australian) who have been reporting in detail and with no less alarm.  How do you explain that?  US probably made them do it?  ;)

BobWilliamKnight
BobWilliamKnight

@MarkRcca they can probably boot chinese hiney all the way to Timbuctoo if they tried  that . lolol  landing 200 Japanese marines wont be difficult. then the construction projects can begin!!interesting   to see how china would like that!!!   lolol

Babeouf
Babeouf

@Observer234 @Babeouf  If there is no military exchange between Chinese forces and Japanese forces there is no problem. Just a lot of bombastic nationalist rhetoric. The problems only arise if one country  fires the first shot. Then the problems will become immense. Once the shooting starts who wins or looses control of the Islands will become irrelevant. A new military and political path for the entire region will have started with potentially disastrous consequences for both Japan and China. And it is quite impossible to say which would be the more disastrous for the Chinese regime winning the battle for Senkaku or losing it.

Observer234
Observer234

Calm down. I am giving you a realistic assessment of the situation. It is important to not underestimate what the Chinese can do in the case of further provocation from Japan. So far, Japan has not landed anyone on the islands since buying the islands last year. But I won't push the envelope if I were Japan. China is ready for war, and war once started has a logic of its own. The USA may have more firepower than China, but it only takes so much firepower before we are in a nuclear winter. Given the USA debt, it's actually quite stupid that the USA should maintain thousands of nuclear warheads when in reality you need only a couple of hundreds, which China does more than possess to annhilate the world, including the USA. There's really no point in stating that USA has more firepower than China.

frankwall1965
frankwall1965

@MarkRcca That sounds quite fascinating Mark - of course you can never be certain and take anything for granted. What was the name of the book out of interest? I might check it out. 

MarkRcca
MarkRcca

@BobWilliamKnight @MarkRcca  Well at that point either side can start "booting hiney", as you say.  It's a game of chicken, until it escalates into a full war.  But..  whoever that lands the marines first, has a chance to keep them without a fight, as the other side may shy away from opening fire.   

Observer234
Observer234

@BobWilliamKnight. If Japan can boot the Chinese, they would have already done that. But they have not and are not capable of it.  Japan wants American involvement, and that means American blood shed over Senkakus. Prepare for WW3 and the nightmare scenario. Meanwhile, Shinzo Abe is going to visit Beijing. 

BobWilliamKnight
BobWilliamKnight

@Observer234 there was NO provocation!! China chose to be provoked , by not minding their own  and making an issue out of a non issue!!!   got that?  Japan can do what they want and china cant do anything .u implying they can sounds threatening . everybody ready for war .i meant better strike capabilities u r rite too may bombs kill us all so i know chinas talkin out her a$s and cant do sheeeeeeit

Observer234
Observer234

@BobWilliamKnight most Americans don't even know there is an island dispute, but I can guarantee you most Chinese do. You can argue whether Senkaku/Diaoyu is worthy of a fight for both Japan and China. BUT from America's standpoint, it's definitely not worth it. It'll be the end of the American century if we get ourselves involved. 

BobWilliamKnight
BobWilliamKnight

@MarkRcca @BobWilliamKnight dont bet on it!!! Japan can land on their island and China can do nothing !if China lands it hiney booting time and the US will b right there. lets hope china is not that stupid  as you say its playin chicken. Americans back up their commitments ! Do not  say y should we shed our blood this proves u  r not American .

Observer234
Observer234

Yes, that may be the best solution. It's called personal responsibility in international relations. If Japan wants the islands, it must fight for it. Same goes for China. If both see that war is detrimental to their interests, then SETTLE !! The USA not getting involved is best as no one side gets the wrong impression that Grandaddy is here to dole out the welfare checks...oops, I mean the "welfare" missiles.

MarkRcca
MarkRcca

@Observer234 @BobWilliamKnight Let's not promise them any involvement.  Why should we shed our blood over some islands in the South China sea??  China has been busy making enemies among her neighbors, and Japan should use that and put together a local coalition to defend against China.  They shouldn't be relying on the US to do their dirty laundry.

Observer234
Observer234

You're not answering my post. Sorry, I'm just not taking you seriously.

BobWilliamKnight
BobWilliamKnight

@Observer234 @BobWilliamKnight if china did wut u say ist hiney bootin time pal japan wants to be left alone NOT Americans shedding blood only goofs say that we r prepared for war and tell  your goof sponsers to prepare to meet theirs . we not scared of hollow threats lolol

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