The American Japanese military alliance has played a crucial role in determining the course of events along the coastline line of the China Seas in the last sixty years.

 The USA firmly established itself as the protector of the Pacific region, forcing Peking, to acknowledge Washington’s military supremacy in the area.

But now China’s military aspirations are growing and Japan and the US are strengthening their military co-operation as a precautionary measure.

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We ask a leading military analyst in Japan what lies behind China’s strategy.

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OT Junichi Abe, military expert, Kanzankai Foundation, Tokyo

Tokyo expert (slowly)

“I would refer mainly to the problem of Taiwan. China seeks to inhibit the autonomy and independence of Taiwan using its air force and navy. In addition China wants to safeguard its access to military resources.

Chinese officials aspire to establish their nation as the stabilising power in the Far East. But this threatens US supremacy in the region. Peking’s military build up could spell the end to this.”

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1’30 K

With three and a half million soldiers China has the largest army in the world, numerically more than twice the size of that of the USA.

Thanks to an upturn in its economy, China will also be able to increase its military spending over the next few years.

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The Chinese navy intends to build five Jin class atomic submarines. They are to be armed with modern nuclear intercontinental missiles, which will also be capable of hitting the USA. Once China installs this system at sea and on land, it will be able to respond to a nuclear attack.

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Chinese military experts themselves admit that this Jin submarine will considerably alter the balance of nuclear power.

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OT Zhang Jianbo, armament expert

“The Chinese have a desperate craving for nuclear power. China should never be occupied again. In addition, re-unification with Taiwan is our paramount objective. During the last decades, American and Japanese armed forces have been operating close to Chinese provinces. Militarily speaking, this has put considerable heat on Peking.”

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Washington feels that this rearmament is directed at it. China is increasingly seen as a potential military rival. Therefore it must be discouraged, says the military analyst Michael Green.

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OT Michael Green Military Advisor to the President (fast)

“We are not panicking, but developments do have to be carefully monitored. With good grounds. The USA has global commitments to protect other countries and also has to finance some heavily expensive military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. What we do not want to happen is for China to develop a military capacity and shift the balance of power in its favour. Even through nuclear weapons. We do not want the Chinese army to be in a position to be able to declare: We are going to attack Taiwan with missiles, or we are going to start a military operation against a neighbouring country, such as, for example, India”

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Strategic surveillance from space is becoming increasingly relevant militarily. Control of troop movements and crisis areas through satellites, radar, computers and sensors are  progressively becoming major factors in the military arena.

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China is fast catching up. Since the beginning of the year Peking has developed its own groundbreaking satellite technology. In theory Peking is finally in a situation where it can monitor American observation satellites.

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European peace campaigners insist that negotiations must start in order to set limits on the spiral of rearmament in the Far East

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OT Bruno Schoch, Peace Researcher, Hessian Institute for Peace Research, Frankfurt

It is generally known that right now, the Americans are more or less against everything when it comes to arms control. That is nothing new.

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I think, for the last 15 years, China has pushed for the banning of anti-satellite weapons in space. This can only be achieved through an international treaty.

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But the Americans didn’t even respond to that. They didn’t even think about it.

Then in January, the Chinese launched a weather satellite, which is basically a satellite test but they keep it a secret. Which is  a terrible situation as this huge piece of metal is just floatin in space.

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But you can also say that it is nudge aimed towards the Americans Europeans, because, I mean that we are also dependant on mobile phones and communication mediums, which we use the space for. That is a hint in order to say ‘hey guys we need to work something out here.

5’33 K

Taiwan has the potential of becoming a global hot spot. Around 1000 Chinese missiles threaten this island. As far as the regime in Peking is concerned, Taiwan is an integral province of their country and the dispute over the island is a domestic political issue.

Way back in 2005, a high ranking Chinese general had already warned that a conflict with America could not be excluded, should Washington intervene in the event of a Chinese occupation of Taiwan.

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OT Teng Jianqun, Chinese Corporation for Armament control (slowly)

“Most of the military activity of our army has been targeted around our coasts – particularly the area opposite Taiwan. An important, if not THE, most important objective, for Peking and our army, is the reintegration of Taiwan into China.”

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In Japan, Prime Minister Abe is keeping a wary eye on the question of Taiwan and the rearmament of China. Tokyo responded politically to the dilemma.

The government adopted new defence directives in which for the first time China and North Korea were specifically identified as threats. Together with the USA, Japan is investing millions in the construction of a missile defence shield.

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The rearmament of Japan is only a matter of time. Even the matter of nuclear arms procurement is now being discussed. Japan has the technical know how to develop warheads and carrier systems. Until now Tokyo had been keen to concentrate on the security policy for the region.

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OT Abe Tokyo

“Japan would like to be prepared in the event that the American defence shield would not suffice to protect us any more. The USA however would not keep any nuclear weapons there. In addition, as a small island state, Japan would not have any substantial advantages if it were to possess nuclear arms since a large section of the country could easily be destroyed in retaliation. Japan would thus make itself the prime target of other countries. Our security would be severely jeopardised.”

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7’55 K

However, China is set on strengthening its nuclear weapons, in order to adjust obvious weaknesses with its conventional armed forces. Chinese military strategists are concerned about its nuclear armaments. China owns an estimated 400 nuclear warheads, a mere fraction when compared to those controlled by the US.

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OT Michael Green

“It is very alarming to note that the Chinese are increasing their military spending in order to attack Taiwan. The USA and Japan therefore cannot help but become militarily involved in the event of a dispute. All this generates a dangerous situation with no basis for mutual trust. President Bush and the Chinese President have a very good relationship and so far politically we are managing the situation quite well. But should there be a serious problem, we have neither the channels of communication nor the background understanding in crisis management that we had in our earlier experiences with the Soviets.”

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Till now, military manoeuvres in China did not particularly alarm the Western world. Now though, Peking seems to be set on an arms race that will be very difficult to stop. Unlike Europe, in the Far East, there are no arms control mechanisms, nor alliance networks which secure peace.

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