Home » Aviation » Report: China Building a Base 190 Miles from Contested Islands


Report: China Building a Base 190 Miles from Contested Islands

An illustration of China’s contested Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) from state run media. Xinhua Photo

An illustration of China’s contested Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) from state run media. Xinhua Photo

China is building airstrips on islands less than 200 miles from the contested Japanese Senkaku Islands, according to a report in Kyodo News.

Citing unnamed Chinese sources, the news agency reported that several landing strips have been built on Nanji island, buttressing existing radar installations on the island.

“It’s a strategically important location because of its proximity to the Diaoyu Islands, it can provide support to the East China Sea air defense zone, and it’s a major naval point on the Chinese coastal defense lines,” Li Jie, a senior researcher from the Chinese Naval Research Institute told Bloomberg.
“It’s unarguable that China would like to enhance the existing military presence there.”

The new base would be in easy reach of the Senkaku Islands — the contested chain near Taiwan the Chinese call the Diaoyu Islands — and could easily support air interdictions as part of the controversial East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ). The base — as Bloomberg pointed out — is also closer to the Senkaku’s than U.S. bases in Okinawa.

One former People’s Liberation Army general said the expansion was expected and normal.

“China has military bases in several strategically important coastal islands and the Nanji is one of them,” Xu Guangyu, a retired PLA major general and senior adviser at Beijing-based research group the China Arms Control and Disarmament Association told Bloomberg.
“The Japanese media is only singling out the Nanji and making a big fuss, this can be misleading.”

  • Don Bacon

    “…the contested Japanese Senkaku Islands”
    The Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands are not Japanese.

    • NavySubNuke

      The American and Japanese governments would disagree with you.

      • sdfqef

        just two?

        • NavySubNuke

          Well those are the two most important, I am sure others do as well.

          • Don Bacon

            Actually Japan has no friends in its neighborhood, and the US position is — no position:
            MS. PSAKI: Well again, we don’t take a position on the sovereignty, as you know, of these – these are disputed waters, and obviously, they have a difference of view on who has control over those waters or who has ownership over those waters. So I think we were speaking to – in response to a range of questions.

            Jen Psaki
            Spokesperson
            Daily Press Briefing at State Dept
            Washington, DC
            May 9, 2014

          • NavySubNuke

            The issue of sovereignty is a moot point when the US has already pledged to defend the islands from anyone attempting to seize their control. The fact that the US is willing to allow the legal process to work is because we respect rules and laws. Since you like quotes so much here is one (unfortunately I can’t provide the link as USNI blocks that but just google Obama Defend Senkaku and you will see numerous sources for this quote):

            [Following a Thursday meeting in Tokyo with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Mr. Obama explicitly stated the Senkaku Islands fall under the treaty obliging the United States to defend Japan if attacked.
            “Let me reiterate that our treaty commitment to Japan’s security is absolute, and Article 5 covers all territories under Japan’s administration, including the Senkaku Islands.”]

          • Don Bacon

            “The issue of sovereignty is a moot point” — it may be moot to you, but not to the two countries contesting it.

            Will Americans die protecting some rocks off China’s shores from Chinese aggression? I hope not. That wouldn’t be “moot.” It would be stupid.

          • Jen Psaki is an idiot and merely a mouthpiece of the ruling Muslim

      • China Lee

        The United States government said Japan can “administer” the Diaoyu Islands. The United States has never said Japan had “sovereignty” over those Chinese Islands.

        It is an established historical fact that China’s Ming Dynasty was the first country in the world to discover, name, and claim the Diaoyu Islands in the year 1403. Under international law, this means China is the “true owner” of the Diaoyu Islands.

        In 1895, Japan stole the Diaoyu Islands from China at gunpoint. However, it is well-established law that a thief can never gain “true title” to stolen property. For example, if you successfully steal the British Crown Jewels, they still belong to the British Royal Family.

        In conclusion, Japan must return the stolen islands back to China as soon as possible. It can be done cordially or at the end of a fleet of Chinese stealth fighters.

        • NavySubNuke

          Sorry but I don’t recognize territory claims made hundreds of years after the fact —- and only after oil and gas are discovered in the region. The world is also full of examples of people who moved in and took land during that same time period and are not forced to give it back. Just ask the native Americans or the aborigines of Australia.

          FYI the US has explicitly stated that the Senkaku Islands fall under our defense treaty with Japan. China should be wary of sending their Russian jet engine powered “stealth” fighters to the area.

          • Don Bacon

            After WWII the US violated the Potsdam Declaration and then failed to invite China, the most harmed nation by the WWII Japanese, to the San Francisco Conference where the US initiated the handover of various islands to Japan (prohibited by Potsdam).

            Recently the Japan government escalated the issue by occupying and administering the Senkaku/Daiyou Islands, which causes the US-Japan treaty to apply. However the US has been explicit in saying that it takes no position on sovereignty, which is a completely different issue.

            Now China has looked at the South China Sea and said– Hey, if Japan can take over islands in the North China Sea then we can do the same here. Meanwhile, China is not giving up on the Senkaku/Daiyou issue, nor should it. It’s all a US-Japan scam against China.

          • Secundius

            @ Don Bacon.

            In the Potsdam Declaration, you had two people representing the interests of China. Chiang Kai-shek (Nationalist) and Mao Zedong (Communist), which of those two would you have invited.

          • Don Bacon

            The point is that China was stiffed. It was not intended that Japan would regain, and gain more, islands because it lost the war. China suffered the most from Japanese atrocities, yet the Senakaku/Daiyou Islands, which are on China’s continental shelf, and a long distance from Japan, should be given to Japan? China, rightfully, disagrees.

          • Curtis Conway

            The Japanese should take it to the International Court like the Philippines did, and they will probably face the same problem . . . China will not go to the International Court. They wish to just throw their weight around and get their way . . . just like despots of old. It is their HiStory.

          • Don Bacon

            The US never goes to the International Court either for the territorial disputes it has. The United States is not a participant in the International Criminal Court (ICC).

          • Nor should the U.S. be a participant

          • Don Bacon

            Of course it’s silly to slam China — They wish to just throw their weight around — and not recently imperialistic Japan. That displays an ignorance of history. Have you forgotten Pearl Harbor?

          • NavySubNuke

            “8. The terms of the Cairo Declaration shall be carried out and Japanese sovereignty shall be limited to the islands of Honshu, Hokkaido, Kyushu, Shikoku and such minor islands as we determine.”
            1. Senkaku’s definitely qualify as a “minor island”
            2. We implies majority as it does not expressly say unanimous vote is required.
            3. UK and US were there — 2 of the 3 — and by the time the conference was held the Chinese government that was part of Potsdam no longer existed and therefore was not required to participate.
            4. They gave up on them over 500 years ago and only became interested when oil and gas were found. China’s claims on the islands are the real scam.

          • Don Bacon

            The Senkaku/Daiyou are adjacent to China (Taiwan) and not to Japan.

          • Quartermaster

            The Chinese didn’t take over any islands. they built them. Consequently, the Chinese have no sovereignty in the Paracels or Spratlys.
            The Senkakus belong to Japan and Japanese ownership has been recognized for decades.

          • China Lee

            I hate to break it to you. Native Americans and Aborigines don’t have thermonuclear weapons. China does. At least 294 Megatons according to NTI.

          • Curtis Conway

            Thank you for reminding us why China is such a civilized nation!

          • Don Bacon

            The US has used nukes — China has not. How civilized was that?

          • NavySubNuke

            Threats of nuclear fire – really? Give me a break.
            A few of them might even land within a few miles of their launch points too – assuming they are actually able to launch and fly all the way to the US which isn’t conclusively proven. And if such a thing were to occur the US has over 1500 nuclear weapons to bury them with.
            A few W88’s would certainly clean up the traffic problems in Beijing and Shanghai. And Hainan Island will make a great scuba diving attraction in a few decades when the radiation lowers enough to allow corals to grow after the US digs out the tunnels around the Island.

          • Curtis Conway

            Need to check out the latest test results. They are getting better faster. They are not planning on going to the moon for nothing. Following the US model of development of technology.

          • Secundius

            @ NavySubNuke.

            In 22 September 1979, a Nuclear Test of Unknown origin to place somewhere between the southern most tip of South Africa and the northern most tip of Antarctica. The reported “double” flash was seen from Prince Edward Island. It is rumored that four countries collaborated in the Research, Design and Testing of the Nuclear Test. The countries were: Israel, South Africa, South Korea and Taiwan. As of 2014 Israel is reported to have ~80 Nukes, As of 1989 South Africa had 6, but dismantled them when the Apartheid ended and SA unified into one country. Both South Korea and Taiwan, are neither Denying or Affirming their existence. The test perform was known as the “Vela Incident”…

          • NavySubNuke

            Certainly an interesting theory although not only has the nuclear test itself never been confirmed neither has nuclear collaboration between the countries you list above. Certainly an interesting mystery that may one day even be declassified enough for us to learn the truth.

          • Quartermaster

            South Africa admitted to nuke testing, but didn’t supply any details.

          • NavySubNuke

            Do you have a source on that? I am fairly certain they never actually admitted to testing though they did assemble some devices that they later voluntarily disassembled and (I believe) turned over.

          • Quartermaster

            I don’t have a reference for you now. deKlerk admitted it in an interview I read back in the late 90s. I don’t think he admitted that the apparent nuke blast that was detected in the southern ocean was theirs. He also said nothing about collaboration with anyone. I can’t remember the magazine I read it in. It was a tad early for the innerwebz.

          • NavySubNuke

            Interesting. Their entire program – and the fact that they apparently gave it up for nothing in return – is really fascinating. Hopefully someday some gets together enough information to produce a complete history on it.

        • Ctrot

          Japan defeated China in a conflict and took control of the islands in 1895, just as territory has exchanged hands through conflict throughout history. Are you saying that ANY territory taken by ANY power through armed conflict is not valid? If that is the case then every border on the planet needs to be re-written, or just erased.

          IN short, your and Mr Bacons arguments are foolish.

          • China Lee

            I don’t have a problem with your reasoning. If you believe “might makes right,” China has plenty of ballistic missiles, stealth fighters, and thermonuclear warheads.

            According to your logic, China will conquer all of Japan within the next 50 years. It’s Darwinism.

          • Ctrot

            I never stated that “might makes right”. What I stated was it is an historical fact that might has been the single most important factor in determining borders in mans entire history. If we are going to start ignoring that fact what is the cut off date? If Japans 1895 defeat of China and the resulting territorial expansion is null and void does that mean all such territorial changes since 1895 are also null and void?
            How do you enforce that? Stop being silly and face the real world as it is not how you wish it to be.

          • Quartermaster

            You overblown idea of your capabilities. I doubt you’ll take Japan anytime in the next millennium.

          • Don Bacon

            from Forbes:

            1. The Japanese position on the Senkaku/Diaoyu issue is indefensible on
            several counts, including most fundamentally Japan’s unconditional
            acceptance of the terms of the Potsdam Declaration (which required the
            return of all territories “stolen” from China).

            2.The Meiji government’s annexation of the Ryuku Islands (theretofore
            an autonomous kingdom) in January 1885, within which the Senkaku/Diaoyu
            islands were identified, followed three months later by the Qing
            Dynasty’s surrender of Taiwan
            and the Pescadores to Japan in the Treaty of Shimonoseki (ending the
            Sino-Japanese War) are both mooted by the terms of Potsdam. The islands
            were and are clearly part of Taiwan, which in addition has the most
            legitimate claim to continuous use/occupation.

            3.The Japanese position that Senkaku/Diaoyu is part of Japanese
            territory because it was awarded to Japan by the U.S. in the Okinawa
            Reversion agreement of 1971 is similarly contrary to fact. The U.S.
            awarded to Japan only administrative authority over the islands, not sovereignty. Sovereignty
            was specifically not transferred. The U.S. continued to maintain was
            undetermined between the three claimants and would only be determined
            through discussion and agreement. (As I noted in the last post,
            the Obama administration–in a monumental blunder–effectively changed
            this policy by failing to object to and stop Japanese
            “nationalization.”)…

        • USNIreader

          not only is this ancient and not supported by modern international law, but it is also patently false. Japan did not “steal” the islands from China. In 1895 China signed the Shimonoseki Treaty which included many other territories after their failed attempt to invade Japan – again. China will always try to grab land from Japan as long as the two countries exist.
          You are also incorrect regarding the issue of sovereignty. The United States, by treaty is required to recognize that territory making up these “disputed” islands as an integral part of Japan, and to on behalf of Japan defend the islands regardless of the political winds blowing from places like Secretary’s Clinton, Albright, etc Even recent US State Dept briefings confirm this.
          The only real question here is why China has of late decided to make an issue of them and create a “dispute.” Though they send state sponsored fishing fleets and govt fisheries vessels and coast guard vessels to the waters almost weekly, we all know that fish are not of interest here to the PLA / PLAN / PRC. In fact, the timing of any modern claim being initiated coincided with the discover of oil and gas fields within the territory.
          You might also look up the JV attempted by Japan where the two countries were to share in the proceeds of the mineral rights after China was caught drilling sideways well into Japanese territory. That olive branch offered up by Japan was soon eschewed as China simply did not allow Japan to participate in the proceeds of these wells.

          Recent history is also full of belligerent acts by China toward Japan even while the Japanese “turns the other cheek.” What did China do after the 3-11 disaster but place an embargo on rare earth materials trying to further cripple Japan? When they typhoon hit this fall, who allowed Chinese fishing vessel safe harbor for humanitarian in the territory reasons even though they should not have been there in the first place? We could go on all day, but you get the point I’m sure; China = perpetual antagonist.
          China has also signed other treaties covering territorial boundaries which they now conveniently disavow. This would all go away if the PLA allowed the PRC to resume civilian control of the govt. Then they would enjoy peaceful commerce rather than continuing to try to start WW III.

          • Don Bacon

            Wrong. The US does not recognize Japan sovereignty of Senkaku/Daiyou Islands.

          • Curtis Conway

            The macro analysis is that China and Russia are pushing on all fronts and growing militarily while we grow weaker. A window of opportunity is perceived. Wish I knew the metrics to that equation.

    • Secundius

      @ Don Bacon.

      It also puts Taiwan in a terrible position as well…

      • Curtis Conway

        Touché, and probably reveals the real intent.

      • Don Bacon

        China is a nation; Taiwan is not.

        • Curtis Conway

          Now Don is the International Court.

          “Cogito ergo sum”

          If one does not recognize the independent nation of Taiwan, then they have an agenda, or are “On a River in Egypt”. They may look alike and share a language, but their philosophies of life and law are significantly different. If you have ever been to Taiwan this is Readily apparent.

          • Ctrot

            Don’s just butt-hurt that the communists don’t control Taiwan.

          • Don Bacon

            Taipei claims to be the government of China (plus Mongolia!!), calling itself the Republic of China which some minor countries recognize, mostly in Central America. Obviously it is not the government of China. It’s all a charade.

            The US doesn’t recognize Taipei, ever since Nixon visited China in 1972, so if the US comes to the aid of Taipei it has no legal standing, but that’s nothing new for the US.

          • Quartermaster

            The Republic of China is an independent country. That does not require anyone to recognize that fact. Only idiots deny it.

        • Secundius

          @ Don Bacon.

          The United States, doesn’t recognize Taiwan as a Nation. The rest of the world excluding the PRC, DOES…

          • Don Bacon

            Nope.
            Mainly because Taiwan purports to be the government of all China – plus Manchuria! They call it the “Repulblic of China.”
            And of course the PRC doesn’t recognize Taiwan as a nation..
            Taiwan is a province of China, both Taipei and Beijing agree on that.

          • Secundius

            @ Don Bacon.

            Nicaragua recognizes Taiwan as an Independent Sovereign Nation. That one of the reasons the PRC/Nicaragua Canal project fell through…

          • The_Universal_Curmudgeon

            You say “The rest of the world excluding the PRC, DOES…”

            Unfortunately that statement is just flat out false. There are 170 countries which recognize the PRC but there are fewer than 24 countries (mostly small, poor, and of absolutely no international clout) which recognize Taiwan as an independent country.

  • China Lee

    In four years, Chinese Chengdu J-20 and Shenyang J-31 stealth fighters will be patrolling the East China Sea.

    The Japanese goose is cooked.

    • Secundius

      @ China Lee.

      Hate to break the news to you, but Japan has had Nuclear Technology since August 1945, after exploding the 1st Atomic Bomb.

      • Curtis Conway

        They learned about it up close and personal.

      • USNIreader

        More to the point, recently the US State Dept has requested that Japan deliver its stock pile of fissile material under the NPT for disposal. Japan has reserved the right to keep the material and the US is not pressing the matter since they live next door to China and the DPRK. It is not by any means a stretch to consider that Japan could field tactical nuclear weapons if necessary in short order – presumably as a deterrent to those belligerents nearby. Obviously they will always abhor these weapons and only do so as a last resort if absolutely necessary. But with all due respect, no one is going to “cook any goose” Mr. Lee.

        • Don Bacon

          Then there is no reason for the US to be involved.

          • Quartermaster

            If you attack Japan or its territory, you involve the US. Stick to your own backyard and you won’t have to worry about the US ding anything.

        • The_Universal_Curmudgeon

          Since there is verified evidence that Japan has used WMD in the past and since there is verified evidence that there are Japanese terrorist organizations and since there is verified evidence that Japan has attacked the United States of America, doesn’t that prove that Japan has vast stockpiles of WMD which can fall into the hands of terrorists and be used to attack America?

          Now I’m not suggesting that the US liberate Japan and effect a regime change – that would be totally improper and probably illegal until the US Congress passes a law saying that it is legal – but the very minimum that should be done is to place a total embargo on all Japanese goods (and the goods from any other country which persists in violating that US embargo) until those people see the light and start acting like good Christians.

          PS – Sarcasm is my middle name.

  • Alan

    Regardless of the Island “sovereignty” issue the declaration of an expansive “Air Defense Zone” or a similar ‘Economic Exclusion Zone’ directly shows China’s propensity for territorial aggrandizement under any guise. Japan and the Republic of Taiwan are equally entitled to splitting the difference with China over similar zones and ultimate sovereignty of islands adjacent to their homelands. Easing of US-China relations should not be an excuse for undermining our support of other recognized nations. Taiwan could ease issue by letting go of its decades old claim of being a ‘Nationalist China’ government and fully claiming its newer de-facto independent identity.

    • Don Bacon

      No, China announced an Air Defense Identification Zone in the East China Sea around the Senakau/Daiyou Islands, where a Japan ADIZ already existed. This area is adjacent to China (Taiwan) but far from Japan.

      • Curtis Conway

        An ADIZ exist beyond the border or territory of which is required to maintain its National Security. The Japanese have quite a few inhabited islands just South of the Senakau Islands. The Japanese have moved forces (troops and E-2C Hawkeyes) to these islands as a proactive measure. The Japanese will protect their territory. The Chinese want a war. The Dragon has arrived.

        • Don Bacon

          How do you know what the Chinese want?
          Actually, you don’t.
          In fact China is responding to Japan’s aggressive move to occupy disputed territory. So I would say it’s Japan which wants war, expecting that the US would support it.
          It’s Japan returning to its old aggressive imperialistic ways.

          • Quartermaster

            The Chinese have stated what they are headed for – war. they mean to avenge their humiliation over the years.

        • Don Bacon

          An ADIZ exist beyond the border or territory of which is required to maintain its National Security.

          You can say that again.

    • Curtis Conway

      There is no precedence in HiStory for a 1,000 nautical mile ADIZ. There is international practice recognized by civilized nations by agreement, that recognizes a 200 nm Economic Control Zone, of which the US is a member, as does many nations around the planet, and protects every day with their Coast Guard, mostly protecting fisheries (considered national treasures). This is the only internationally recognized surface control zone, other than the 12 mile limit (the three mile limit being obsolete) that is recognized as a navigation exclusion zone. That is what Freedom Of Navigation OPerationS (FONOPS) is all about. The Chinese Coast Guard is in the Philippines’ ECZ at over a 1,000 miles away from their own coast. Normal and acceptable behavior from a neighboring nation?! Everything is Spiritual Warfare, and in this case, the Chinese are the aggressor exploiting others resources, claiming Ancient Rite. Sound like King John or a Feudal Lord to you?

      • The_Universal_Curmudgeon

        “There is no precedence in HiStory for a 1,000 nautical mile ADIZ.”

        It’s only a matter of degree. The US and Canada have maintained an ADIZ that extends well past their territorial boundaries since the end of WWII.

      • Don Bacon

        An ADIZ is an identification zone. It merely requires pilots to briefly provide information over a radio.

        civilized nations by agreement, that recognizes a 200 nm Economic Control Zone, of which the US is a member

        Nice try. The EEZ concept is part of UNCLOS which the US has not ratified. UN member states (water adjacent) that have not signed– Eritrea, Israel, Peru, Syria, Turkey, United States, Venezuela.

        The Chinese Coast Guard is in the Philippines’ ECZ at over a 1,000 miles away from their own coast.

        So what’s the US Navy doing in the South China Sea?

        • Quartermaster

          The Navy is minding its own business. The EEZ concept is recognized by the US whether it signed UNCLOS or not. It has for better than 30 years.
          The Chinese are encroaching on the territory of others.

  • OleSalt_1

    The Senkaku Islands are Japanese as far as Japan is concerned. If one is familiar with Japanese culture, he will understand the nation’s “Samurai – Bushido” Fighting Spirit. Japan has a strong & capable Navy, with a long fighting tradition (against Czarist Russia & during WW II). Japanese shipyards are experience in building warships even before WW II. A large JMSDF “carrier” is presently doing sea trials. Japan welcomes USN defense cooperation , BUT I believe it is well prepared to stand on its own if necessary. Unlike the South China Sea, China’s PLA-N’s “bullying” will not work in the East China Sea.

    • Don Bacon

      If it won’t work, why worry?

      • OleSalt_1

        BTW, why is China so concerned with PM Abe’s newly appointed Japanese Defense Minister as reported in the press (25 Dec 2014)? Who is worried, or rather concerned to put it diplomatically? IF PLA-N goes ahead and tries to take over the Senkakus by force, the retaliation will be bloody alright. Let ALL nations “Have Peace on Earth, & Goodwill to all Men”, the opposite is absolutely DISASTROUS.

  • Bill

    I guess the Chinese are really feeling it these days. Sending trolls into various discussion groups is only part of the plan.

    Former SecDef Gates should remind us again why he refused to sell the F-22 to our Japanese friends.

    • Don Bacon

      Because the F-22 had contents that were not allowed to be exported, which is why F-35s for foreigners are not like domestic ones. I don’t think there is any mystery about it. So we don’t need Gates to explain about “our Japanese friends.”

  • The_Universal_Curmudgeon

    I do note that the airbase is likely to be within the PRC’s territorial waters.

    What I see is rampant panic mongering. The Mexican Air Force has based within 200 miles of the United States of America. The Canadian Air Force has bases within 200 miles of the United States of America. The Cuban Air Force has bases within 200 miles of the United States of America.

    Let’s get real here folks.

    • Secundius

      @ The_Universal_Curmudgeon.

      The 200-mile limit are Economic Zones, Not Territorial Zones. International law is recognizes Territorial Zones as being only 12-miles…

      • The_Universal_Curmudgeon

        Um, the Mexican, Cuban, and Canadian airbases are within the territorial boundaries of those countries and are STILL within 200 miles of the United States of America.

        Oh, and the Nanji Islands are within the territorial boundaries of the PRC.

  • twphision

    All of these are just for oil under the sea. Why do they never sit and talk about how to make it peace or making it rich together? It’s really useless to compare weapons between Asia countries. waste million money there~