Pentagon Warns of Conflict Over Chinese Buildup on Disputed Island

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Beijing asserts Scarborough Shoal is Chinese territory

China’s plans to build up a disputed island near the Philippines could lead to a regional conflict, Defense Secretary Ash Carter told Congress on Thursday.

Carter was asked about the strategic significance of China’s plan to add military facilities to a disputed island known as Scarborough Shoal located about 120 miles—within missile range—of Subic Bay, Philippines, where U.S. warships will be based. Continue reading

US Pushes Japan to Take Stronger Military Role in Pacific

Japan could go nuclear in three months if it wished. All it has to do is snap the parts together that it likely already has ready.

 

Limited by military restrictions since the end of World War II, the Japanese parliament is now considering new guidelines which would allow it to expand further into international waters. The move is fully supported by the US, which hopes Japan can play a larger role in curtailing a growing Chinese influence.

Tensions have steadily risen between Tokyo and Beijing over a group of largely uninhabited islands in the East China Sea. Both nations claim ownership, and the islands overlook major shipping lanes in the Pacific Ocean, which means the United States has an indirect interest, as well. Continue reading

China Expands Its Sphere in the South Pacific

China is once again working to expand its reach in the South China Sea. Its latest target is the Philippines. Recently China sailed a warship, two surveillance vessels and fishing boats into an area occupied by the Philippines’ military, causing an outcry from Philippine officials on Tuesday. While this small conglomerate of ships may pose little immediate threat, this is just the latest step in China’s expansion in the Pacific.

While this intrusion prompted Filipino President Benigno Aquino iii to announce plans to upgrade the country’s aging navy, China isn’t planning to wait around for that; it has already been busy making its presence felt in the island region. China is said to have recently been constructing military structures in the Union Bank, a group of islands that are also within the territorial boundaries of the Philippines as defined by unclos. China has also established itself on a number of other islands in the region, including Mischief Reef and Subi Reef. Continue reading

Abe warns of possible military response to intruder subs

TOKYO — Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Tuesday Tokyo could mount a military response if foreign submarines enter its territorial waters while underwater, as Japan and China continue to squabble over islands.

“These are serious acts. If submarines enter our territorial waters while underwater, we would have to implement maritime security action,” Abe told the Diet. Continue reading

China Launches Stealth Frigate Amid Ocean Tensions

BEIJING (AP) — China has launched the first ship in a new class of stealth missile frigates, state media reported Tuesday, amid ongoing tensions with neighboring countries over Beijing’s maritime claims.

The People’s Liberation Army Navy is building a total of 20 Type 056 Jiangdao class frigates to replace older models and bolster its ability to conduct patrols and escort ships and submarines in waters it claims in the South China and East China seas. Continue reading

Cyber Blitz

A recent series of cyber attacks on Japanese Internet sites originated in China and were viewed as a possible prelude to military action, according to defense officials familiar with details of the attacks.

Japan’s National Police Agency revealed last week that at least 19 Japanese websites were hit by cyber attacks timed to increase tensions between Tokyo and Beijing over the Senkaku islands.

U.S. officials said the sites affected included Japan’s Defense Ministry, Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry, and the country’s supreme court. Banking and utilities networks also were hit.

Other sites that were attacked included Japan’s Statistics Bureau and the government’s Internet TV, which were temporarily blocked. A university hospital network also was hit.

Earlier this month, up to six Chinese military vessels moved into Japanese waters and then withdrew, Japan’s coast guard reported.

According to one U.S. official, the Chinese-origin cyber attacks are considered a preview of how China’s military would conduct the opening phase of a military campaign. The official did not say China is preparing some type of military engagement with Japan over the islands, but warned that one could erupt through miscalculation.

The latest cyber attacks began in mid-September and appeared timed to Beijing’s growing animosity toward Japan over the island dispute.

The Japanese police said in a statement that the cyber attacks were “presumably connected” to the islands dispute. The attack targets were posted on the web site of the Chinese hacker group “Honker Union” and included “government executive agencies and important infrastructure companies.”

The National Police Agency stepped up monitoring of websites through the Cyber Force Center and alerted organizations listed as the attack targets. The center was seeking to analyze the attacks and prevent their spread, the statement said.

Tatsuo Kawabata, Internal Affairs and Communications minister, told Kyodo News that the ministry’s network was hit with an intermittent attack for a total of seven-and-a-half hours beginning Sept. 15. The attack was most intense on Sept. 16, when 95 percent of the traffic to the site originated in China.

The recent cyber attacks appeared to be less sophisticated than the kinds of cyber attacks that the Pentagon has detected in recent years and would likely precede a military conflict.

However, the attacks also appeared designed to give China’s government deniability for the digital strikes and could also be multiple purpose strikes for both political and military goals.

Many of the attacked websites were replaced with a Chinese flag and proclamations that China owned the Senkakus.

Japan’s National Police Association reported that the Chinese hackers had targeted 300 organizations in Japan, and that several thousand Chinese had posted notices of the planned attacks and hacker tools to be used on a chat site called “YY Chat.”

An official said one Chinese group behind the attacks was identified as a well-known group that is suspected of having ties to the Chinese government.

The group is called the Honker Union and surfaced several months ago after a period of relative quiet, the official said.

Full article: Cyber Blitz (Washington Free Beacon)