China has shown that it may soon be ready to engage in conflict with Japan after warships of the People's Liberation Army Navy were found aiming their fire-control radar at vessels and aircraft of the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force, reports China's nationalistic Global Times tabloid, citing several Japanese media outlets.
US military sources told the Tokyo-based Nippon Hoso Kyokai on June 14 that Chinese fighters have followed and monitored the movement of Japanese aircraft at close range on a number of occasions. This began even before China established its controversial air defense identification zone in the East China Sea, the sources said, with the incidents taking place at open sea. The sources added that US aircraft are sometimes targeted by the PLA Air Force fighters as well.
The Tokyo-based Asahi Shimbun reported that Japanese warships and aircraft had begun to be tracked and targeted by Chinese fire-control radar since February last year. While Beijing has denied such an accusation, the Japanese newspaper said that the actions of the PLA in the disputed region are highly provocative. The paper added that the PLA fighters flying in close proximity to Japanese aircraft are treading a thin line between causing a conflict with Japan and America.
The Japanese defense ministry has yet to confirm the reports, however.
Geng Xin, a Chinese scholar living in Japan, told the Global Times that the Japanese media are trying to promote the idea of the "China Threat" as a way to rally support for President Shinzo Abe's attempt to revise the Japanese constitution. Through condemning China as an aggressor, it is easier for Japan to damage the reputation of Beijing in the international community, Global Times said.