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June 24, 2017

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China wants to discuss Tiaoyutais

Tensions continue to mount over the Tiaoyutais, known as the Senkakus in Japan. Shintaro Ishihara, governor of Tokyo, is collecting contributions from across Japan to buy three of the uninhabited Senkaku Islands and place them under the joint control of his metropolis and the city of Ishigaki, one of the Ryukyu Islands of the prefecture of Okinawa. One of the three islands he wishes to buy is Uotsuri-jima, which is Tiaoyu in Chinese and the largest of the small archipelago. What does he want to buy them for? He said as the Japanese government cannot protect the tiny islets "Tokyo will protect the Senkakus," and said "The Japanese are acquiring the islands to protect our own territory. Would anyone have a problem with that?" The People's Republic of China has a problem with Ishihara, of course.

So the Japanese ministry of defense is convinced that the People's Liberation Army (PLA) is holding a large, long sea maneuver in the Pacific for the first time, flexing its military muscle in a show of force against Japan and the United States, the ally supposed to help protect the Senkakus.

According to the information confirmed and released by the defense ministry, a PLA Navy flotilla crossed what is known as the line of the first island chain into the Western Pacific from the East China Sea on last Tuesday, moving down south along the offshore of Taiwan toward the Philippines. There are five warships in the small fleet, including a Luyang missile destroyer, a Jiangkai frigate and a Yujiao landing ship. They are heading for Guam in a formation that the Japanese military said is to protect an absent aircraft carrier lacking sufficient defense capability against air attacks, like the Variag China has purchased from Russia and the one it is building. The PLA Navy is said to use the Variag as a carrier for training purposes and Guam is the largest American military base in the Western Pacific, to which the United States is removing most of its marines from Okinawa. The Chinese sea maneuver, which is the first of its kind in the Pacific, may not be a tit-for-tat one against a Japanese joint exercise that took place from Nov. 14 to 18 last year but was made known on the same Tuesday.

During the five-day war game — by which the Japanese defense forces seem to be telling Governor Ishihara they will defend the Senkakus — though not held there, 35,000 personnel of the three services took back Tiaoyu which had been occupied by Chinese "fishermen" after land, sea and air battles.

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